(h/t Dave at Video Cafe)
On This Week with Christiane Amanpour, Jake Tapper interviews Iowa straw poll winner Michele Bachmann. (Let's point out that the Iowa straw poll is a fundraiser for the state GOP. It actually costs $30 to take part, so it tends to attract the true believers.)
It's traditional for the media to let candidates have their initial victory lap without too much in the way of hard questions, and Tapper pretty much leaves her alone -- except for a few half-hearted jabs asking her what she would cut in government spending:
TAPPER: So the Republican field gets smaller by one, with former Governor Tim Pawlenty dropping out, but Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, the victor, still has a long road to the nomination. And she joins me now.
Congresswoman, first of all, congratulations on your victory.
BACHMANN: Thank you, Jake. Thanks for having me on.
TAPPER: Now, do you have any reaction to Governor Pawlenty dropping out?
BACHMANN: Well, I wish him well. I have great respect for the governor. We've known each other for a long, long time. And he brought a really important voice into this race. And I'm grateful that he was in. He was a -- really a very good competitor.
TAPPER: You guys did have words during -- during the campaign, and one of the -- you seemed to represent a more uncompromising Republican. He seems to represent more of a compromising Republican, someone willing to make deals. One of the reasons you did so well in the straw poll was because your message resonated so much with Tea Party Republican, with Christian conservatives.
I'm wondering, how do you expand beyond the Republican base? Why would a moderate Republican vote for you?
BACHMANN: Well, everywhere I've gone, all across Iowa, there isn't an event that I do that I don't have people come up who say that, "Michele, I'm a Democrat, and I'm voting for you," "I'm an independent, and I'm voting for you." They'll tell me, "I voted for Barack Obama, but I'm not voting for him again. I like you; I like what you say."
And I think it's because I'm talking about what people really care about, and that's turning the economy around and job creation. And I've been there, and I've done that. I'm a former federal tax lawyer. And my husband and I also started our own successful company. I get it with job creation.
Oh, yeah. She goes from being a foster parent where she gets to claim the maximum from her state because her husband is a mail-order psychologist -- and then they expanded into a clinic that takes government money for praying away the gay. And then she gets elected and starts collecting federal benefits. Doesn't sound like "job creation" to me -- more like "working the system."
And I think what people see in me is that I'm a real person. I'm authentic. And they want someone who's going to go to Washington and represent their values.
That's really what you saw here in Iowa in the straw poll yesterday. You saw a big message sent to Washington. People really saw the kind of the punch to the gut that America got this last week, and they really want someone that they can trust that they believe in who's actually going to turn the economy around.
TAPPER: Governor Perry jumped into the race yesterday. And like you, he's a hero to the Tea Party and to social conservatives, but he's also the nation's longest-serving governor with a record of creating jobs. He's leading you in some national polls. He has great support among your base. He has the executive experience you do not have. Why should a Republican voter pick you over Governor Perry?
BACHMANN: Well, I've been in Washington fighting the fights for the last four or five years. And I've been at the tip of the spear on these fights, for instance, raising the debt ceiling. I was the leader for the last two months saying, "Let's not raise the debt ceiling." I had a plan for not going into default and not raising the debt ceiling. The president had no plan.
I was the first member of Congress to introduce the full repeal of Obamacare and of the Dodd-Frank law. And I fought against the Obamacare bill and brought literally tens of thousands of Americans to fight it.
I think that's what I've demonstrated, is that I have a core set of principles that I believe in. I'll fight for them. That's what we need in a president of the United States, because a president is more than just a manager. What they really bring is leadership to bear. They appoint good people, and they bring leadership. And that's what we need, is someone who we can believe in and trust in, who's going to stick to what they say.
TAPPER: Don't you think Perry is now your chief competitor, in terms of you -- you guys are going after the same voters. You have a lot of the same themes. Why would someone pick you over him?
BACHMANN: Well, I think because I have a demonstrated, proven record that I will fight for what people care about. I am bringing that message, of when it comes...
TAPPER: And he hasn't been fighting for what they care about?
BACHMANN: Well, you know, he'll run his own race, and he has his own message. I have mine. And I think of it, again, on the -- on the national stage, I've been involved in all of these issues and will continue to be.
TAPPER: Governor Pawlenty wondered if you even met the minimum requirement to be president because you lacked executive experience and results.
BACHMANN: Well, you know, there is no requirement in the Constitution that one be a governor in order to go into public service. Ronald Reagan was a governor, but what made Ronald Reagan great wasn't his governing experience as a governor. It was his core set of principles. Jimmy Carter was also a governor, but I don't think anyone would argue that America prospered and flourished under Jimmy Carter's presidency.
So being a governor and having governor-level experience isn't the number-one requirement. It's really, who is the person? What is their character? That's what the Federalist Papers talked about. What's their character? Who are they? What have they done?
In Minnesota, I led a movement and put my voice behind changing education. That's really how I cut my teeth in politics, was on education reform. And we're not a conservative state. We're far more of a liberal state. But I brought Democrats and independents and apolitical people together. We actually changed our entire education
system in Minnesota, because I brought people together, and we had reform. That's what I'll do as president of the United States.
TAPPER: You talk about your leadership on the debt ceiling issue, but Rick Santorum, who came in fourth in the straw poll, called your position on just refusing to raise the debt ceiling, he said it was not only irresponsible, but outrageous, since immediately the government would have to cut 40 percent of the government. What cuts would you make?
BACHMANN: Well, it's not outrageous at all. What's outrageous is turning us into the biggest debtor in the history the world. No nation has ever been in debt to the level that we are. And it wasn't that long ago that we were the world's largest creditor.
We have to get our house in order. This year alone, we've brought in $2.2 trillion in revenue from all the taxes we pay in, and then we spent not only every penny of that, but we spent $1.5 trillion more.
TAPPER: Right. So what would you cut?
BACHMANN: That's a problem.
TAPPER: What would you cut?
BACHMANN: Well, immediately, I think what we need to do is recognize that we will tell the markets that we will pay the interest on the debt, don't worry about default. Number two, we will pay our men and women in military. It'd be irresponsible not to. And anyone who's currently on Social Security, you get paid.
But beyond that, I would bring all members of Congress together. And this isn't some project for 10 years and 15 years down the road. Right now, we're going to reform entitlements. We're going to reform them for anyone who's currently not on them. We're going to change them so that they'll work, because...
TAPPER: Medicare, Medicaid?
BACHMANN: Medicare, Medicaid, they have to be changed. Why should we continue to run these program the way we did 45 years ago? Systems have changed. We can -- we can make these far more efficient than what they are. Social Security is another program, 80 years old. Why would we continue to run it in the same way we did 80 years ago? Let's modernize it so it's there for people who depend on it.
TAPPER: One last question I wanted to ask about. You once characterized homosexuality as, quote, "personal bondage, personal despair, and personal enslavement." Do you believe that?
BACHMANN: Well, I am running to be the president of the United States. I am not running to be any person's judge. And I give -- I ascribe dignity and honor to all people, no matter who they are. And that's how I view people.
TAPPER: So you would appoint an openly gay or lesbian person to your administration?
BACHMANN: I would look, first of all, will they uphold the Constitution of the United States? And, number two, are they competent to do what they need to do? And are they the best at who they are? That's my criteria, nothing more.
TAPPER: Last question, and that is, does Pawlenty leaving the race and Rick Perry coming into the race change your strategy at all?
BACHMANN: Well, I think every day going forward we'll take a look at what's happening with strategy, but our main strategy is to win.
Obama is my strategy. I intend to be the nominee of the Republican Party and to take him on and to defeat him in 2012, because we have to turn the economy around and create jobs. That's what I'm going to do.
And I'm committed to not resting until we repeal Obamacare.
TAPPER: All right. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, thanks so much for joining us, and congratulations again.
BACHMANN: Jake, thank you.