Michelle Bachmann's appearance yesterday on This Week with Jake Tapper was one of her more cringe-inducing performances. Not because she isn't someone incapable of delivering lines and staying on message, but because the content of her message is so obviously boilerplate campaignspeak from someone who's so clearly sliding too far down, too fast to win. Instead, she's promising a "miracle:"
TAPPER: My next guest sounds just as confident, but her path forward is a lot more murky. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann joins me from Des Moines.
Congresswoman, thanks for joining us, and happy new year.
BACHMANN: Happy new year to you. Great to be on with you this morning, Jake.
TAPPER: So the last time you and I spoke, you had just won the Iowa straw poll. The Des Moines Register poll had you tied for first place with Mitt Romney with 22 percent of the vote. Now that same poll has you with 7 percent of the vote. What happened to your campaign?
BACHMANN: Well, we've had a very good campaign. And I think what's happened is, a lot of candidates have come in, and Iowa voters and national voters have taken a look at all of the other candidates. But we have done I think what no other candidate has done, and that is, after the last debate, we've gone across all of Iowa, all 99 counties, and we've actually done heavy, heavy retail politics where we've gone into cafes and into living rooms of Iowans, and we've made a very strong connection with a lot of people.
And if you look at the polls, it's upwards of 40 percent to 50 percent of Iowans haven't made their decision yet. And I think the polls, what they're reflecting will be very different from what we're seeing on Tuesday night, because people make their decision, quite honestly, in the caucus room. Iowa is very different. People gather in living rooms. They gather in elementary schools and churches, and they make their decision on the spot with their neighbors. And we have done, like I said, what no other candidate has done the last two weeks. We've put over -- almost 7,000 miles on our bus, and we've literally gone from town to town to town meeting with people directly. And we saw thousands of people switch their vote just in the last couple of weeks, so we think there's going to be a very profound shift that people see on Tuesday night.
TAPPER: Well, one of the -- one of the dilemmas that you've had is that a lot of the voters that you are competing for, conservative voters, Christian evangelicals in some cases, are also being wooed by Rick Santorum and Rick Perry. And Santorum has momentum right now. He is at third place in the Des Moines Register poll. And if you look at the last two days, he's in second place. He has strong social conservative credentials. He's fluent in foreign affairs. He won statewide twice in a key swing state, Pennsylvania. So why should voters go for you and not him?
BACHMANN: Well, because I'm the strongest core conservative in this race. There is no comparison with all of the other candidates and my credentials. No other candidate has current national security experience in the race. I sit on the House Intelligence Committee. I am daily involved with the issue of national security. No other candidate is.
And as what we -- what we are seeing happening with Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon, that will be a formidable issue immediately with the next commander-in-chief. I'm ready. No other candidate is currently ready in that issue.
Gee, Michelle, I know it makes me feel better that you'll lie about Iran "obtaining" a nuke. It shows you'll say anything at all to win - always a great quality in a president.
Also, I'm the only federal tax litigation attorney in this race. When it comes to dealing with the number-one issue that's on voters' minds, which is out-of-control spending, I have that credential in spades over any other candidate, because no other candidate was leading on this issue in the halls of Congress or in Washington or nationally. I'm the one that called for saying "no" to letting Barack Obama increase the national credit card limit.
Psst, Michelle honey? Try not to say things like that around sane people. It doesn't help.
And when it comes to social issues, there's no one who can -- who can compare with my record. I'm a mother of five, a foster mother to 23 children that we've raised, and also I have an unassailable record on life, on marriage, on religious liberty. So when it comes to values and issues, there is no one who comes close to where I am on those issues.
But I think even more so, I'm the one that's been proven and tested in the fires of Washington, and that's why I think you saw people vote for me in the Iowa straw poll, but also it's what we have done on the ground. No other candidate has done more retail campaigning on the ground.
BACHMANN: And I think we'll bear the fruit of that on Tuesday night.
TAPPER: But with all due respect, Congresswoman, this is the same pitch you've been making all summer and all fall and -- and up until today, and you're in last place, according to the polls. And -- and somebody that has similar credentials to you and a similar appeal to you, Rick Santorum, is showing huge momentum. Why you over him?
BACHMANN: Well, again, I think the polls take a few days to catch up. And -- and we have made that incredible deposit of going in every single county. We've drawn 300 people at a stop, 250 people at a stop, and I think a lot of that isn't yet reflected in the polls. And the main thing will be on Tuesday night.
We're looking forward. We're not looking in the rear-view mirror. And what we're seeing going forward, especially with the tremendous outpouring of young people that are coming out to work on our phone banks and to go lit dropping and door-to-door is nothing short of amazing. We're -- we're number-one in the category of enthusiasm. If you look at all of the candidates, which candidate has the most enthusiasm among their supporters, I'm that candidate. I'm number-one with the 18- to 29-year-old voters, which are highly motivated, and they're doing all of the work.
So I think that if you look at my past races, and polling data showed me actually losing and 8 points behind in previous races that I've had when I've run for Congress, and yet I -- I win by 8 and 13 points. So polls don't -- are -- sometimes belie the truth on the ground, and that's what we see. This isn't just about polling. This is about what we're seeing in reality, and I think Tuesday night people are going to see a miracle.
TAPPER: In the last week, your campaign has gotten involved in a big kerfuffle about one of your top supporters, your chairman in Iowa defecting and going to the Ron Paul campaign. I don't want to get into the weeds on that debate. There was a back-and-forth about whether or not he was paid off. He denied that you accused him of doing that. But this is not the first time you've made a charge like this. You've also said this about other supporters with Newt Gingrich in Georgia, with Rick Santorum.
Don't you risk -- making these charges, doesn't that risk voters seeing you as making a final gasp of desperation?
BACHMANN: Oh, for Heaven's sake. Of course not. What this shows is the tremendous momentum that we have out of the last debate. From person after person, they said that I won the last debate in Sioux City, Iowa. And the reason why is because, when Ron Paul made his very dangerous statements, which is he was just fine with Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon, or with Newt Gingrich taking $1.6 million from Freddie Mac and he was unable to defend that, I -- I took it to them.
And what people saw during the last debate is that I have the ability, of all of the candidates on the stage, I have the best ability to take it to Barack Obama in the debate and hold him accountable. We had tremendous momentum coming out of the last debate, and we saw it in county after county in our 99-county tour, where people were just appalled by Ron Paul's position. They thought it was dangerous.
That's why we saw literally thousands of people switching their decision on the spot, and that's what you saw, was this crush of momentum. And so we saw some different actions coming out of the Ron Paul campaign. And I think that people will be very surprised at the results on Tuesday night, because I think people will see a lot of defections away from Ron Paul because they see -- especially with the aggressive nature of the actions on the part of Iran in the Straits of Hormuz, people are seeing how important it is that we have a commander-in-chief who is conversant, prepared, knowledgeable, and has good judgment on foreign affairs. And of all of the candidates in the race, I'm best suited for that -- that portion of being commander-in- chief.
TAPPER: Congresswoman, we only have a little bit of time left, so last question. In the interests of candor and being based in reality, positing that you feel that you're going to have a very good night on Tuesday and that all the polls are wrong and you're going to do well, but assuming that the polls are right, isn't that, practically speaking, the end of your campaign if you come in last on Tuesday?
BACHMANN: Well, we've bought tickets to head off to South Carolina. And we are looking forward to the debates. January is a very full month. We're here for the -- for the long -- for the long race. This is a 50-state race. And we intend to participate not only in New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida, but to go all the way, because I intend to be the Republican nominee and defeat Barack Obama in 2012, because America needs a candidate that will be in the legacy of a Ronald Reagan and of a Margaret Thatcher. That's what I intend to do, is to be America's iron lady.
TAPPER: All right. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, good luck on Tuesday. And hope you have a wonderful 2012.
BACHMANN: Thank you. Same to you and your listeners.