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CNN "Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees" - Transcript

Interview

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CROWLEY: Joining me from the critical primary state of New Hampshire, congresswoman and GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann.

Congresswoman, thank you so much for being here. I want to start out with some of the things that are in the news beginning with the pastor who was introducing and supporting Governor Perry in Texas who said that Governor Romney, who is a Mormon, is not a Christian. I want to know if you agree with that statement.

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: You know, this is so inconsequential as far as this campaign is concerned. We have religious tolerance in this country and we understand that people have different views on their faith and I have a very sincerely held believe on faith and I think we just leave it at that.

CROWLEY: Well the thing is, it is not so inconsequential, is it? In a primary on the Republican side where conservative Christians have quite a lot of say so, particularly when you of move south into South Carolina and places like that. So it is not inconsequential for someone to call a major candidate in the Republican Party and the primary season not a Christian.

BACHMANN: Well, again, I have a very strong sincerely held faith. I talked about it as the values voters and the candidates can have the faith that they want. But the beauty about America is that we do have tolerance for each one's faith and that's where it's at.

CROWLEY: And let me just, because I gave Herman Cain the same opportunity, you know that by not answering the direct question do you think Mitt Romney is a Christian, you leave open the possibility that people are going to say that you dodged the question, the direct question.

BACHMANN: No. I think what the real focus is here again is on religious tolerance. That's really what this is about. And I think -- again to make this a big issue is just ridiculous right now because every day I'm on the street talking to people this is not what people are talking about. I was very open about my faith, very clear about my faith. It's very important. But I don't think that I'll be judged based on my faith as president of the United States, I think I'll be judged based upon the good ideas that I have to turn the economy around and have job creation.

CROWLEY: So, let's talk about turning the economy around. The rage this week has been a surtax on millionaires. Anything they make over $1 million would be taxed an additional 5.6 percent or so. Am I correct in assuming that you think that's a bad idea?

BACHMANN: It is a very bad idea, because remember, that's on top of all of the other tax increases that President Obama is putting on this same group of people who are the job creators in this country but on every American, because we can't forget Obamacare itself is a huge tax increase.

BACHMANN: And the Dodd-Frank bill, which does to financial services what "Obama-care" does to health care, also comes with increases in fees which are exactly the same as taxes as far as people's pocketbooks are concerned. So this is a very bad idea.

CROWLEY: Well, Congresswoman, here is the problem I think some people have. The unemployment rate is 9.1 percent. There is the feeling that the government needs to do something to break this logjam.

And the idea of let's repeal, you know, regulations and environmental regulations or this or that because it is so costly to business doesn't seem to be catching fire. And yet when you ask Americans about a surtax to help bring down the deficit, more than 70 percent say, good idea.

So you seem -- and other Republicans seem out of step.

BACHMANN: Well, it isn't out of step to actually turn the economy around. What's out of step are all of the agendas that President Obama has put into place. If we could wind the clock back to the time of the $700 billion bailout, I opposed that bailout.

And had government not intervened with the trillion dollar failed stimulus and the "Obama-care" bill and Dodd-Frank and all of the interventions that President Obama put into place, the economy would have turned itself around.

Because what President Obama doesn't seem to understand is that government doesn't create jobs, the private sector does. We need permanent solutions in the private sector. The failure has been that government -- we've had government-directed gimmicks and temporary fixes. That's what doesn't work.

We have a proven record of two-and-a-half, three years of what doesn't work. Now we need to engage what does work and that's permanent solutions in the private sector.

CROWLEY: Let me just put out there that a lot of people think that the president's stimulus program did work and saved us from losing more jobs, but I want to move you on...

BACHMANN: Well, it certainly did not. There's nothing that's more provable and that's the fact that it didn't work at all. It was a complete failure.

CROWLEY: Well, the economy is creating jobs now -- not enough jobs and the White House would admit that, but it is creating jobs now whereas before...

BACHMANN: Not because of the stimulus.

CROWLEY: OK. Let me move you on because I know that's an argument that happens a lot on the campaign trail and I wanted to ask you what you make of these Wall Street protests, these anti-Wall Street protests. Do you see any anger in there that you can understand and that you relate to in any way?

BACHMANN: Well, I went by one of the protests in Washington, D.C., on Friday and I saw a lot of signs from AFSCME and other unions that were there. So I don't know how spontaneous these protests were but it seems to me that their anger should be directed at the White House, because Barack Obama's policies have put us in one of the worst tailspins economically that we have. And maybe that's why the protests that I saw was within shouting distance of the White House.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you about -- you've been saying for the past couple of weeks that this is an opportunity for Republicans to nominate a true conservative. Some of the value voters, I assume you would think, are true conservatives. They had a straw poll.

You were in fourth place, tied with Mitt Romney. Herman Cain was up the list. And I wanted to ask you, since he seems to be the one with the rising poll numbers at this point, do you consider Herman Cain a true conservative?

BACHMANN: Sure. I think Herman Cain is a conservative. I think he's doing a great job and I think that in this race right now we have an opportunity to be able to elect a candidate who could do it all, because there's no question in my mind that Barack Obama will be a one-term candidate.

I see that everywhere across the United States that I'm going. People are very disaffected by the president and by his policies, and now we're looking for someone who has the answers and someone who has the experience to be able to put those answers forward, and I think I'm that candidate.

CROWLEY: Does Herman Cain have the experience and is Mitt Romney a true conservative?

BACHMANN: Well, again, I'm here to talk about me and my candidacy. And I've got 55 years of experience. Strong experience in the private sector and also I think what sets me apart from all of the candidates in the race, for five years I have lived, breathed, and fought against these out-of-control policies on the front lines in Washington, D.C. I have a proven record that I have stood up in the gale-force winds of Washington. I fought against "Obama-care," against Dodd- Frank, against the bailouts, against all of what has contributed to the joblessness in the United States.

I understand this issue from the inside. We need a president who has been on the inside who understands. But I also have extensive private sector experience as a federal tax lawyer and as someone who has created my own business as well.

CROWLEY: Let me ask you, in our final moments here, in talking about your campaign, the last time we spoke you had just won the Iowa Straw Poll. Since then you came in dead-last in the Florida Straw Poll. You came in fourth at the Value Voters Summit yesterday that we know of. It appears that your campaign is imploding.

What has -- why has there been such a downfall in the national polls, as well as in the state polls for you?

BACHMANN: Well, your assessment is completely inaccurate. It is not true at all. We're just starting a kick-off today of four days here in New Hampshire and we've got a wonderful experience in Iowa, and we've been in South Carolina, Florida, we've work very hard and we have very strong numbers in those states and we're looking forward to continuing that.

But I'll be doing several town halls today in New Hampshire and we look forward to it. And let me correct you, we did not participate in the Florida Straw Poll. We didn't participate at all so the ranking is completely inaccurate.

CROWLEY: Well, then let's take New Hampshire, which they just put out a poll. Your favorability there was 29 percent in July. It is now something like minus 18 percent. Do you feel that anything has gone wrong in your campaign? What accounts, do you think, for at least the trajectory of these numbers?

BACHMANN: I think we are doing a good job getting our message out on job growth and on turning the economy around. That's what we're working on. We're not focusing on the day-to-day. Because as you have seen with many of the other candidates, candidates go up, candidates go down.

And what we're very concerned about is making sure that the message gets out there, because it is not about any one of us, it is about turning the economy around and creating jobs. That's my focus and I think that's why I won the all-important Iowa Straw Poll.

That poll is the only poll of all the ones that you've mentioned where anyone in the state can participate. It's the most reflective of an actual primary election or caucus and that's why we were excited to win that poll.

CROWLEY: Congresswoman, thank you. Just quickly. Are you planning to run for re-election in your district or have you decided come what may, you won't? BACHMANN: Candy, I am running to be president of the United States.

CROWLEY: Have you ruled out running in your district? BACHMANN: Candy, I am running to be president of the United States.

CROWLEY: OK. Fair enough. Thank you so much. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, good luck to you there in New Hampshire.

BACHMANN: Thank you, Candy.

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