Analysis: Debate Debut Lifts Bachmann’s Clout

WASHINGTON (AP) — Rep. Michele Bachmann’s smooth presidential debate performance stands to make her a bigger force in the Republican Party after years of errors and hyperbole. Her new credibility could pose problems for GOP leaders trying to put together a deal with President Barack Obama on reducing the nation’s debt.

Bachmann resolutely opposes letting the government slide even deeper into debt, a position that appeals to her constituency of no-compromise tea partiers.

Her confident, nearly error-free debate showing Monday night on stage alongside six men rippled through Republican circles back in Washington. She may have the clout now to confound GOP leaders who have labored to keep the Minnesota congresswoman positioned to help the party, rather than embarrass it. Speaker John Boehner now may have to do more than just pacify her.

Boehner rejected Bachmann’s bid after last year’s elections to join the leadership as the party’s conference chair. She is the party’s top fundraiser in the House, but Republicans haven’t trusted her with the gavel of a committee or even a subcommittee.

They can’t shun her so easily now.

Asked about Bachmann’s debate performance, Boehner answered: “I think she did a really good job last night. She’s a bright member of our caucus. It’s one of the reasons why I appointed her to the Intelligence Committee.”

Bachmann has been a handful for Republicans because what she has lacked in credibility she has offered in constituency. She raised $13.5 million for the 2010 election, more than Boehner or anyone else in the House. She gave $90,000 to the National Republican Campaign Committee two months before the historic elections that made Boehner speaker, according to the Federal Election Commission. She’s also the founder and chairwoman of the Tea Party Caucus, which counts 59 members, according to a list provided by her office.

Leaders have no choice but to pay attention when the congresswoman departs from the GOP position on the weightiest issue now facing Congress: whether to raise the $14.3 billion debt ceiling or instead put the federal government in default, with potentially devastating consequences to a fragile economy and anemic jobs market two years after the worst recession since the Great Depression.

Bachmann boasts about her penchant for bucking her party. She voted twice against the plan enacted in 2008 to unclog frozen credit markets with a $700 billion infusion of cash to banks, other financial institutions and two of the big three domestic auto producers.

“I fought behind closed doors against my own party on” the Troubled Asset Relief Program, Bachmann said. “Sometimes that’s what you have to do. You have to take principle over your party.”

Several Republican lawmakers and aides said Tuesday that Bachmann’s debate may have opened the door to reviving her credibility if she can stay clear of exaggeration and mistakes. Certainly, some noted, her penchant for overshadowing others worked out for her Monday night when she surprised the six men she was debating by announcing she had filed the necessary papers to run for the GOP presidential nomination. And GOP leaders are more than willing to capitalize on the energy — and campaign cash — her supporters bring to their cause.

But there’s a long list of Bachmann moments that have caused her fellow conservatives to cringe:

–At her November 2009 rally at the base of the Capitol, attended by Boehner and other GOP leaders, a few of her cheering supporters held signs comparing health care reform to the Holocaust, calling Obama a “Traitor to the Constitution” and asking “Ken-ya Trust Obama?” — a reference to the false claim that the president was not born in the United States.

–In 2007, she said Iran has a plan to partition Iraq and turn half of the country into a “terrorist haven.” She later said she meant that Iran and other enemies of the U.S. want a divided Iraq but she knew of no actual plan.

–Two years later, she called it an “interesting coincidence” that the last swine flu outbreak in the U.S. occurred under a Democratic president, though it really happened during Republican Gerald Ford’s administration.

–She once falsely claimed taxpayers would be stuck with a $200 million per day tab for an Obama trip to India.

–She mistakenly identified New Hampshire as the site of the Revolutionary War’s opening shots. They were fired in Massachusetts.

–She accused Obama of running a “gangster government.”

But for Bachmann’s followers, the 2010 elections that restored Republican control of the House after four years of Democratic rule vindicated her. She appointed herself the chairwoman of the Tea Party Caucus in the House and announced her candidacy for GOP Conference chairman. “Constitutional conservatives deserve a loud and clear voice in leadership!” Bachmann declared on her Facebook page.

House Republican leaders didn’t disagree, but they didn’t endorse her, either. Boehner, aware of the role tea partiers played in making him speaker, endorsed no one. But his lieutenants lined up behind Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas, leaving no doubt that Hensarling — and not Bachmann — was the leadership favorite for the post.

Bachmann’s relationship with House GOP leaders may not matter much longer. On Tuesday, hours after the debate, she announced that she is not running for re-election to the House in 2012.

Then again, Minnesota law makes it easy for her to change her mind. If she stumbles in the primaries early next year, state law would allow her to discontinue her presidential campaign and file for re-election to the House by June 5, 2012.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • keel

    One of the things I care almost nothing about…

    • Huxley

      Relax, she won’t last long. Time wounds all heels. She’ll be exposed soon enough.

  • James2

    Bachmann may have said she’s not running for the house seat while playing the presidential game but we all know that she will quit in time to try for the seat again. She is transparent, duplicitous, and leaves no surprises. Yawn!

    • gdog

      Actually she said she was suspending her house-seat re-elaction for now. Which is what everyone does with their current seat if they are running for a higher office. So, she’s doing the same thing all other reps have and would do. Not sure why anyone would be confused about this.

    • Quint

      Either way she will be in your face for a long time to come. The republicans are here to stay so get used to it.

      • Robert

        I disagree. After 2012, people like Bachmann will ride off into the sunset.

        heck the last time bachmann held a rally in South Carolina prior to Apriil 15, she barely had 300 attendees

        the teabaggers are losing their steam

        remmeber The Reform Party 1992 funded by then billionaire Perot, by 1996 it was all but a memory

      • Meh

        Really, that’s your comeback? That’s almost as sad as what the GOP is bringing to the fight. I have yet to see any decent candidate from the GOP. It’s kind of like the Democrats with Kerry in 2008.

        • Quint

          You can name call and demagogue the issues all you want but the reality is that no matter who the republicans run they will defeat Obama and his merry band of socialists. The dems got their clocks cleaned in 2010 and last time I checked the economy is worse, unemployment higher, foreclosures up, inflation rising, debt climbing, fuel higher, immigration out of control, middle east in chaos, Iran closer than ever to a nuke, Mexican gangs ruling the border……need I go on. The country is no longer buying into your socialist garbage

          • Tom

            @ Quint

            You are basing your assumpiton that 75% of country thinks like the 25% of country. Not everybody is or wants to be that nuts, delusional!

            And by the way we are all Socialist!

            • Quint

              Don’t speak for the rest of us. Just because we have some socialist programs in place does not mean we all want them. I don’t know where you got your percentages but the election was a landslide and it will get worse for the dems.

              • Les Johnson

                What should be done with gays, Quint?

                Don’t ask, don’t tell? Stay in the closet? Should we herd them up and gas them?

                You know your savior MB says god hates fa(g)s, right? Do you hate them too?

              • Tom

                @ Quint

                If you are already are or plan on going on SS, Medicare, then you are socialist. And if you don’t want those 2 socialist programs then decline them when it is your time, but if you are already on them then you should drop them. I put the country in 3 categories 25% Liberals, 25% the Religious Right, and 50% Independents. And you need to remember one thing the Independents who gave the GOP power in 2010 voted out of anger about economy. Now since the election has your GOP focused on the economy? Or social issues? Like I said 75% of country use more common sense in making decisions then that 25% who are the Religious Right who do not use common sense for anything.

                • Quint

                  Just because you live in a communist country does not mean your a communist. Secondly those are the worse programs ever set up by the federal government. They take up the bulk of the budget and are riddled with fraud, abuse, and are going broke. This is another example of the dems cradle to grave benefits package they think the american people need because they don’t know how to take care of themselves. You want a law that says you have to save x amount in a retirement program fine but for heavens sake don’t put the government in charge.

      • James2

        That’s fine Quint. I love this comedy show more than you know. And I’m more of a Log Cabin kinda guy than you expect. So, relax. I still stand by what I say. But thanks for laugh though. You both must have the same writers.

      • Nell

        Woo hoo! Let’s all chant “we’re here and we’re square! Get used to it.

  • Angus

    We will now be faced with WCCO pimping for Bachmann and Pawlenty for the next several months. Their love for the right wing creates a bias in their news coverage.

    Why did Timmy get the 9 to 10 Friday morning slot on WCCO and Dayton get the 7 to 8 Saturday morning when there are fewer listeners? BIAS!

  • Nigel

    Give her time, Bachman will slip some malapropism in the campaign.

    • Me

      We can only hope and pray. Here is Lewis’ facist and the irony that she’s also from Minnesota.

  • StraycatStrut

    Go Bachman…. great for her…. great to see women step it up….. and we’ll let the prior commentators like Keel and James2 worry about Palin emails as they truely seem to be Kool Aide drinkers with the same boring message.

  • Me

    One decent debate performance does not erase the crazy, delusional things she’s said in the past.

    • Oscar

      What crazy, delusional things?

      • LadyJane

        @ Oscar

        You have obviously been living in a cave for the last 10+ years.

        • Oscar

          Name some.

          • Me

            “The Founding fathers ended slavery.” This one is my personal favorite. Laughable considering they owned slaves.

            “I find it interesting that it was back in the 1970s that the swine flu broke out under another, then under another Democrat president, Jimmy Carter. I’m not blaming this on President Obama, I just think it’s an interesting coincidence.” -Rep. Michele Bachmann, on the 1976 Swine Flu outbreak that happened when Gerald Ford, a Republican, was president, April 28, 2009

            “I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out: Are they pro-America or anti-America?” -Rep. Michelle Bachmann, calling for a new McCarthyism, Oct. 2008

            “Carbon dioxide is portrayed as harmful. But there isn’t even one study that can be produced that shows that carbon dioxide is a harmful gas.” -Rep. Michelle Bachmann, April, 2009

            She also thinks the first shots of the Revolution were fired in New Hampshire, not Mass.

            • Oscar

              Your very own vice president said this “When the stock market crashed, Franklin D. Roosevelt got on the television and didn’t just talk about the, you know, the princes of greed. He said, ‘Look, here’s what happened.” -Joe Biden, apparently unaware that FDR wasn’t president when the stock market crashed in 1929 and that only experimental TV sets were in use at that time

              and as far as her anti-american comment I agree, There are a lot of Americans that believe it is unpatriotic to try and turn this country into a quasi-socialist state. They believe in the founding fathers vision of a limited federal government.

              Do you want a list of the Messiah gaffs? Do these make Obama and Biden crazy and dillusional?

              • Me

                apples/oranges When Biden is on, he’s on. Everyone knows he’s smart and he’s the Veep, not President. Bachmann doesn’t have knowledge of basic American history and she’s running for President. She probably doesn’t even know that New Mexico is a state.

                • Paul


              • ??

                What do you mean “your very own President?” Are you a Canadian? If you’re American then he’s your President, too.

      • What???

        Maybe that the shot heard round the world was in New Hampshire. How about that when she first ran for office it was because she fast for 4 days and had a vision of God that told her to run. I could go on but that would spoil the fun of you looking some up. Just Google her name and see how many crazy pages come up and how many serious pages come up, it is insane.

        • Lenny

          No the shot heard round the world was
          In what might be the worst possible moment of his young administration, Obama clearly bows before King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. When queried about the bow later that day in Strasbourg, France, Obama says, “We have to change our behavior in showing the Muslim world greater respect.” A week later, after apparently being alerted that the only people who bow before the king are his subjects — not his peers — the administration’s official line on the bow changes, and White House spokespeople say the president was merely stooping to shake hands with the much-shorter king. This lame excuse irks even the most biased members of the fawning press, who can clearly see the deep bow the president makes in subsequent video clips.

          • ??

            Hey, that’s protocol. Bush did it, too when he met the man.

            • Lenny

              No he didn’t you jug head.

              • What???

                Dang, Lenny wins as he called you a jug head. Everyone knows that resorting to name calling wins the argument and proves all that has been stated. I still cannot believe that insult, are we in an Archie comic now? I would have also accepted poop face, or knuckle head.

              • ??

                Lenny, Bush did do it. I’ve seen the video highlights. Let me guess, they were doctored? And I take offense to you calling me a jug head. Every one knows I’m a dunder head.

          • What???

            How dare he show some respect to someone. I am shocked and in disbelief that we would have a Pres that has manors. How was he not impeached for this?

            • Nell

              And why did President Obama do it? Because it IS protocol and W. Bush did it prior to Obama.

  • sally

    Bachmann is a great asset for the left. She is on numerious funding raising mailings from left-laaning groups. Stay in the public eye Bachmann, you are helping the left raise big bucks.

  • ordinary guy

    India/China/importer get rich in this economy, US/workers/property holders get poorer. Bachmann’s frugality and belt-tightening is only a stop-gap measure. Democrats and Republicans have no will to upset this and make things more expensive for long-term job growth and recovery. Congress finds it easier to let the US economy die by inches. One side would have us lower our expectations until we’re serfs, the other would have us live off their pity. For wealth, we all have to work and all have to prosper and pay taxes. Imported goods don’t pay their share of the overhead, fair and square.

  • BeenThereDoneThat

    Everyone here fails to forget…All we have now is Obama..the OJT POTUS…and we can all tell he was not up for the job.

    • ??

      Um, every first term US President is getting on the job training.

  • Tom

    To those who are posting on here and think Bachmann is smart, brillant, intelligent, then the question you should ask her is why she didn’t accept the challenge of that 16 year old high school student put out to her? But what do people like you do you crucified that 16 year old for even suggesting a debate with your Pride and Joy nut job!

    And of course if she decided nut to run for 6th district then her followers will so lost, because they will have too find another nut to support.

    • Bellree

      Go get a job Tom you won’t have so much time to think about stuff thats over your head.

  • Reasonable

    Well I for one hope she becomes president so that I can keep buying incandescent light bulbs!
    I mean really, what else has she done so far in national politics?

    • Lance

      Pretty much what Obama did before coming into office. Only she at least was on the intelligence committee.

      • Nell

        But Lance, she was put on the intelligence committee for a different reason.

  • hotformichelle

    I think she’s Smoking hot!!!!

    • Beer Guzzling Redneck

      I don’t believe you.

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