HH: Pleased to welcome Michele Bachmann back to the program. Congresswoman, always pleasure, thanks for joining us.
MB: Thank you, Hugh Hewitt. Thrilled to be on your show today.
HH: Let’s start by giving us a status on your exploratory committee for president. When do you expect to make that decision? And what’s the website people can get information from?
MB: Well, the decision will be early this summer sometime, and they can go to www.michelebachmann.com, or they can go to my Facebook site, it’s www.facebook.com/teambachmann. So I’d love to have people follow me on Facebook or come to my website. And I will be making a decision, one way or another, early this summer.
HH: What’s your gut tell you, Michele Bachmann? You’ve never been shy. I’ve done a number of events with you up at Symphony Hall. You’ve never not known your own mind. What’s your gut tell you?
MB: Well, my gut tells me, Hugh, that there’s a lot of support out there. I think President Obama has disappointed a lot of people who gave him a tremendous amount of trust, and they see the negative impact he’s had here domestically, but also for America’s stature across the world globally. And I think people really do want a change election. Isn’t that ironic, considering he was the change candidate? So I think we have an opportunity, but it won’t be easy. It’ll be very tough. And I think people want someone who’s authentic, who will do what they say they’re going to do. And so I’ve been very encouraged. I’ve been to South Carolina and New Hampshire, Iowa, Florida, and I’ve been extremely encouraged. But again, I haven’t made a final decision. I’ll make that this summer. The Iowa Straw Poll will occur in August, and I think a candidate needs to participate in the Iowa Straw Poll. And if that happens, I’ll have to make a decision by sometime early summer so that we can have a meaningful participation.
HH: Politico.com announced today that their debate with NBC has been postponed until September. Do you anticipate participating in any presidential debates prior to your announcement, and then prior to the Iowa Straw Poll?
MB: I would have to make the decision first as to whether or not I’m going to run before I would go into debates. I think it would be, it wouldn’t make any sense for me to enter into a debate unless I’ve made that decision.
HH: All right, have you had a chance to talk about your decision with Governor Palin?
MB: No, I have not. I’d love to have a chance to speak with her. She’s a lovely, wonderful person. We’ve met each other on three different occasions, we’ve had a wonderful relationship. I’d love to speak with her. She has a lot of experience with this, being our former vice presidential nominee, and I’d love to have a chance to speak with her.
HH: Now do you think that you two draw from the same well of support, that the people who were likely to support a Palin candidacy would be likely to support a Bachmann candidacy?
MB: I don’t know that people see us as necessarily interchangeable. I think that there may be people that would support both of us who would also, perhaps, support other candidates. I know in Minnesota, I’ve attracted Democrats to vote for me, independents, people who have never been political before, libertarians, because people just want the country to work again. And in my district, they’re very practical people. I’m a very practical person. And that’s what people are looking for, someone who is focused on practicality, of the nuts and bolts of how to get the country to work.
HH: Now Michele Bachmann, a lot of the armchair political strategists out there say you’d do very well in Iowa, I mean, very well in Iowa, but that in so doing, you’d be taking votes away from your friend and former governor, Tim Pawlenty. Have you talked about the fact you’re both from Minnesota, and you’d both be presenting a neighborly approach across the border to your south?
MB: Well you know, I am an Iowan. I was born in Iowa, I was raised in Iowa.
HH: I didn’t know that.
MB: I have, I’m a 7th generation Iowan. Our family came over from Norway in the 1850s, so we have a lot of deep Iowa connections. I think each of the candidates stand on their own in front of the voters. And I trust the people of Iowa to make the decision that they want to make, because after all, they are looking for someone to be their voice as president of the United States. That’s what they’ll look for. And so they’ll make their decision, they’ll stand on their own. But again, I haven’t yet made that decision to enter my name as a candidate.
HH: But you’ve heard, I’m sure you’ve heard or read that some of the people in Minnesota who are big Tim Pawlenty fans are more than a little upset with you doing this, because they think you’re drawing from Tim Pawlenty’s root strength. How do you respond to them?
MB: Well, this is, I really don’t think this is about any particular candidate. This is about making sure we don’t have a second term for Barack Obama. We need to field our strongest possible candidate to do that. And we are living in extraordinary times. Very difficult decisions will need to be made by the next president. And those decisions have to be made. We have to have someone who’s an extremely strong Constitutional conservative. And they need to make decisions that are strong, even if that would mean the next president would only be a one term president. They have to be willing to do what needs to be done, because quite frankly, our finances are in such a state that we’re going to have to have someone who is really willing to make those tough decisions and stand strong.
HH: I say there are seven significant candidates out there, including you. Are there any other Constitutional conservatives in the field right now, and I’m talking about, obviously, Newt Gingrich and Tim Pawlenty, and Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum, and Haley Barbour, and I’m forgetting who number seven is, but it will come to me shortly. Have you, do you think the field has any Constitutional conservatives in it, Michele Bachmann?
MB: Well, that won’t be for me to decide, Hugh. That will really be for the voters to decide in each of these primary states, and ultimately in all 50 states. But I think that people are ready for someone who is new and different, and someone who is going to stand strong, and also someone who is willing to take on the President. I think that the President is very defeatable. His positions on energy, on job creation, on health care, are abysmal, and particularly now on foreign policy. The President has a lot to answer for, and I think that the debates will be fascinating, and I think we need to have a candidate who’s willing to take the President on.
HH: Are you going to be willing to take on the other Republican candidates, though? I know you and Tim Pawlenty are friends. Are you going to be willing to, you know, go at him and say Tim, I just disagree with you on this and that, or look at Newt Gingrich in the eye and say I don’t agree with that, Speaker, or Governor Romney, you screwed this up? Are you going to do that?
MB: Well of course, that would be a part of the debate. We would have to present ourselves and distinguish ourselves from the other candidates. And there are clear distinctions.
HH: All right, now in terms of, you know, the media, the conservative media loves Michele Bachmann, and the old liberal media hates Michele Bachmann. And you know they’re going to try and do to you what they did to Sarah Palin. Are you expecting Katie Couric to ask you what newspapers you read?
MB: (laughing) I’m prepared for that and a whole lot more.
HH: Okay, which newspapers do you read? Let’s get it out of the way.
MB: I read Investor’s Business Daily, I read the Wall Street Journal, I read the Washington Times, and then I go online and I read various online websites. That’s a lot of what I do every day, is just being self-taught. And then I read various newsletters. And I read a lot. I usually have a couple of books that I’m reading at any given time. And so I’m a big reader.
HH: How about your favorite blog sites and talk radio hosts? You can except the current company.
MB: Okay, Hugh Hewitt…
HH: There you go. I wanted that, but…
MB: At the top of the list.
HH: I’m fishing, but no, really, how do you engage…
MB: That’s right, fishing.
HH: Now who do you listen to and where do you get your electronic media from?
MB: Well, I’ll usually check the Drudge Report out in the morning, and I’ll check the Daily Caller. I’ll check out the National Review Online. It’s probably not the sites as much as it is the writers. I love to read Victor Davis Hanson, for instance. I think he has a lot to say about military history, and I love to read Charles Krauthammer. Krauthammer Friday is always something that I don’t miss. So I have a few regulars that I go to. But then, I’m open. I really do love Investor’s Business Daily. I think that’s one of the top papers that I like to go to. It’s their editorial page that I like more than anything else.
HH: Let me ask the two big questions that the left always says our people fumble. Was the President born in the United States, and is he a Christian?
MB: Well, that’s not for me to decide. You know, I’m not the person who would make that decision. But I will tell you, I take the President at his word. I don’t think that’s the most significant issue facing us right now. I think what we need to focus on the main thing, which is job creation, and the President has utterly failed on that score.
HH: Now Congresswoman, why not simply say, as I do, I think he was born in Hawaii, and I believe anyone when they say they are a Christian?
MB: Yeah, if that’s what he says, that’s why I would take him at his word. That is so peripheral, that it’s not really, that’s not the issue. It’s the President’s worldview that I’m concerned about. That’s what I’m concerned with, because his worldview, I think, is very, very different than previous presidents.
HH: It is. Is Donald Trump being responsible when he goes out there and demands the President come up with a birth certificate?
MB: Oh, you know, I’m not going to comment on that. That’s up to Donald Trump.
HH: All right, in terms of worldview, have you had a chance to read Stanley Kurtz’ Radical In Chief yet?
MB: I haven’t read that, but I’ve read The Roots Of Obama’s Rage by Dinesh D’Souza. And I would highly recommend that book to any of your listeners.
HH: All right. I have not read it, so I don’t know whether…
MB: It’s excellent. Oh, Hugh, you’d really enjoy it, because it talks about Obama’s worldview. I take it…I love Stanley Kurtz, by the way. He’s another author I love to read. Stanley Kurtz, he just wrote this, is this also about Obama’s worldview?
HH: Oh, absolutely. And it is such a detailed history.
MB: I’ll read it. I’ll read it.
HH: All right, you mentioned Victor Davis Hanson, so let’s do a little foreign policy. What did you make of the President’s Libya speech the other night?
MB: Oh, I thought it was a disaster. The President’s policy on Libya has been, incoherent would be a charitable word. When the President said that he wants to see Gaddafi leave, but it’s okay if he stays, that’s just a picture of the entire speech. He continually went back and forth, and he said the opposite thing. But I think to me, Secretary Gates on Sunday morning, when he said that Gaddafi did not pose a threat to the United States, nor does United States have a vital national interest in Libya, and the fact that it’s been verified over and over in the media by the administration that we do not know who the opposition is, a report came out last Friday in the United Kingdom Telegraph stating that veterans of al Qaeda have been spotted among the opposition forces? What in the world could it possible be in the United States’ interests for us to somehow empower the al Qaeda in North Africa? I don’t understand that. I just think this is ludicrous for us to be involved in Libya right now.
HH: And what should we be doing vis-à-vis Syria, where Bashar Assad today basically said, doubled down on dictatorial fascist rule?
MB: Well, another person that I read is Caroline [Glick]. And she’s had some fascinating articles that she has written. I think we need to keep the practicality in mind that we are currently engaged in Iraq, we are currently engaged in Afghanistan, we are currently engaged now in Libya, and we also have numerous ships and troops in Japan. We have a high number of troops helping with that disaster. We are stretched to, I think, our maximum level, and we’ve having budgetary problems in the United States. So we cannot be all things to all people in these nations. That’s why I think that is was not wise for the President to make this move in Libya, because the President again is trying to have it both ways, Hugh. On one hand, he’s trying to demonstrate that he is the leader in this effort, but on the other hand, he sounds more and more like George Bush saying mission accomplished, because he’s saying that they are handing this operation over to NATO, and now it’s NATO’s problem. No, it isn’t. The President started this. This is President Obama’s war. He will have to answer for this war.
HH: In terms of Syria, however, should we be encouraging the Syrian people to try and throw off the dictator, just as we ought to have encouraged the Iranian people to throw off the Mullahs?
MB: Well, I think that we had a tremendous opportunity with the Green Revolution in Iran. And I think that is an area where it would have been very good, not, again, not for us boots on the ground in Iran. I don’t want anybody to misunderstand. But I think there are other things that we could have done to encourage that effort. Syria is a volatile situation, very volatile. And some people call it a secular state. Others don’t. It’s a complicated situation in Syria. And Caroline [Glick] has said that she thinks that it would be good if the United States could be supportive in some ways. And so I’m still looking at that situation. I haven’t come down either way on it.
HH: Let’s close by talking about Congressional policy and people. I’m talking with Michele Bachmann, www.michelebachmann.com. Follow her on her Facebook page as well. Her exploratory committee is either going to be announced soon or sooner, that’s in my view. But she sort of said something like summer. When does summer start anyway? What date is summer?
MB: In Minnesota, it’s a very different thing, Hugh.
HH: So you’re trying to give yourself until August, huh?
HH: You might declare at the Fair.
MB: Well, looking at the winter we’ve had so far, we’d be lucky if we’d melt by August.
HH: All right, so Michele Bachmann, in terms of the budget debate that’s underway right now, will you vote for any 2011 budget that doesn’t defund Planned Parenthood?
MB: That is one factor. What I have been standing for is defunding of Obamacare. You and I had an excellent conversation wherein I talked to you about the $105,464,000,000 dollars that was hidden in plain sight in the Obamacare bill. There was no conversation about this appropriation that was put in the bill. So Obamacare, as you know, is already, not fully funded, but it is funded for implementation through 2019. This is an outrage, because the American people, the House and the Senate were deprived of this knowledge. And I believe that President Obama needs to give that money back. I am going to stand with that until we get that money back. So I will not be able to vote for a budget unless we defund Obamacare. This will change the course of history in the United States if we implement socialized medicine. And I’m doing everything I possibly can to defeat socialized medicine in America.
HH: Okay, I do want to talk about the pro-life issue a little bit. I understand that that is subsumed in your larger issue.
HH: And if you’re not going to vote for Obamacare, you’re not going to vote for Planned Parenthood money.
MB: No, no I won’t be voting for Planned Parenthood. The other thing I want your listeners to know, Obamacare will provide, for the first time, taxpayer funded abortion.
HH: That’s what…
MB: And despite the President’s protestations, it does provide for taxpayer funded abortion. So we can to part of the problem by defunding Obamacare. But again, Planned Parenthood is a billion dollar a year operation. And they receive something in the neighborhood of $300 million to $350 million in federal grants. We should be out of that grant making business from the federal government. And in my opinion, I don’t even know if Planned Parenthood should have their 501c3 status in light of the fact that the leader of Planned Parenthood in Illinois has said that they want to be the Lenscrafters of big abortion. Well, if they do, then they have no business having a non-profit status.
HH: So my question, as we close, is will social issues be a part of Michele Bachmann’s presidential campaign, if that campaign begins, as most of us expect it will soon?
MB: Oh, sure they will, because I have a strong opinion that I do believe in the right to life, and I also hold to the family and the importance of the family.
HH: How many kids do you have?
MB: We have five biological children, and we’ve also raised 23 foster children in our home.
HH: You see, I think that’s the most amazing thing. Someday, I just want to do a half hour with you about 28 kids.
MB: On foster care? I’d love to.
HH: No, just about 28 kids, and how many of them are still living? I mean, how did you run the house?
MB: Well, you know what that makes me, Hugh? I am officially the old woman in the shoe.
HH: You are. You are the old woman in the shoe. How many grandchildren do you have yet? You’re not old enough to have…
MB: We have none. I think, I told my husband I think we’re going to end up having five weddings all at the same time. No one is engaged or married or anything yet.
HH: All right, last question. You are a tax lawyer.
MB: I am.
HH: I always tell people to be careful when you argue with a tax lawyer, because they’re going to know the details on this. What is the prospect for thoroughgoing, fundamental tax…I don’t like the Fair Tax. Where’s Michele Bachmann on the Fair Tax?
MB: Well, my big thing is actually on spending. If you talk about what comes first, spending or taxes, it’s spending, because we just need to have a fair system of taxation. And you know, a flat tax, I’m perfectly fine with a flat tax. The thing with a Fair Tax is that if you’re starting a tax system from scratch, it has a greater likelihood of being adopted. I think theoretically, it is a wonderful system and a great idea. I think practically, I just don’t, or I should say politically, I don’t know if we could sell it to the public politically. So I think that’s the challenge that we have. But a consumption tax makes a lot of sense. I will say that it makes a lot of sense, but I think politically, it could be a difficult sell. But again, what we really need to do is recognize that 65% of our budget it taken up in entitlement spending, and that’s where the real game is, so we have to have reform there. And essentially, we are no lean, mean machine in the federal government. We have to have tremendous reforms so that we can offer a future to the next generation.
HH: Michele Bachmann, great to talk with you. We will check in with your repeatedly. Good luck in making your decision soon.
MB: Thank you, Hugh. Talk to you soon.
End of interview.