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CBS "Face the Nation" - Transcript

Interview

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ANNOUNCER: From CBS News in Washington Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer.

SCHIEFFER: And good morning again.

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann who was on fire during the debate last night is joining us from Des Moines this morning.

Congresswoman, appreciate you getting up early to come in and be with us. I want to ask you this question, it just struck me last night watching the debate. You're a social conservative, but when Newt Gingrich's three marriages came up all the other candidates just jumped right on it. You did not make any direct criticism or reference to him about that. I just wonder why that was.

BACHMANN: Well, I was asked a question about character and what that meant for the presidency of the United States. And I went back to what the founders said, and the founders said that we needed to focus on their character. And that was my response.

SCHIEFFER: So do you think that is an important issue? And should be an issue out there on the table? His marriages?

BACHMANN: Well, I think it's one that voters will take a look at, because they want to know who the person is, what the measure of the man or the woman is. And I'm sure that that will be a factor as well.

SCHIEFFER: You know, in an interview that President Obama did with Steve Kroft this week, it's going to be seen tonight on "60 Minutes," the president said he thought all you Republican candidates were alike. Listen to this.

(BEIGN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It doesn't really matter who the nominee is going to be. The core philosophy that they're expressing is the same, and the contrast in visions between where I want to take the country and where they say they want to take the country is going to be stark. And the American people are going to have a good choice. And it's going to be a good debate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHIEFFER: You did take a slightly different line about that last night. In fact you called the two frontrunners Romney and Gingrich, you referred them at one point as Newt Romney. Are you different from them?

BACHMANN: Without a shadow of a doubt. I'm the only proven consistent constitutional conservative in this race on issue after issue, and that's what I was pointing out last night. As I was studying the candidates, especially Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, it is very clear that there's not a dime's worth of difference between the two of them, because both of them have advocated for the health care mandate. In Newt Gingrich's case for 20 years. And in Mitt Romney's case he's the only governor in the United States' history to put into place socialized medicine.

They both agree with Barack Obama. This is the seminal piece of legislation of Barack Obama. It's the one issue that our candidate has to take President Obama on with, and they won't be able to debate him on this issue because they're on the same side as the president.

But also Newt Romney are on the same side of the president when it comes to cap-and-trade, the $700 billion bailout, illegal immigration, even the payroll tax this week which there isn't one shred of evidence that that has created a single job.

So when you take a look and people say this is a two-man race, I would agree. But the one man is Newt Romney and the other man is Michele Bachmann, the only proven consistent constitutional conservative. I'm the only one that can take the debate to Barack Obama and win and be elected.

SCHIEFFER: So I'm going to separate Newt Romney into two people again just to ask you this next question.

You know, suddenly Newt Gingrich has surged to the top. And Eugene Robinson, the columnist for the Washington Post wrote the other day, "this guy is carrying more baggage than Louis Vuitton." Do you think that this baggage is going to hurt -- I mean could, if Newt Gingrich got the nomination, do you think he could take the whole party down?

BACHMANN: Well, I think there's very serious concerns about Newt Gingrich as the nominee. And this is starting to get unpacked, because again we know that he has taken over $100 million. His offices are on the Rodeo Drive of Washington called K Street. He's the king of K Street.

And so for a person who has been influence peddling for over 30 years in Washington D.C. to think that Newt Gingrich is somehow an outsider, when he's the consummate establishment insider, he's the big government candidate just like Mitt Romney is the big government candidate, that's not what we want in our nominee. It doesn't even survive the falling off the chair laughing test.

We have to have a candidate who is going to stand for our issues and our values and be a true, proven constitutional conservative.

Barack Obama knows me in Washington D.C. because I've taken him on. I've been on the tip of the spear fighting him on Obamacare, on cap-and-trade, on issue after issue. There's a clear distinction in the candidates. And I'm the proven candidate who has been tested by fire in the lion's den of Washington D.C.

SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you this question about the other half of Newt Romney, and that is Mitt Romney. Why do you think he is having such a problem? He got to about 20 percent with voters, but he just can't seem to get away from that. And we continue to see others come and go as the alternative to Romney. What's his problem?

BACHMANN: Well I think it's because when you look at Mitt Romney's record you see someone who has stood firm for socialized medicine. Last night on the stage again he was supporting and agreeing with himself for socialized medicine. The American people don't agree with that.

He also was for cap-and-trade. He was for the $700 billion bailout. And when it comes to issue after issue Mitt Romney is not reflective of where the base of this party wants to go. They want small government. And Mitt Romney has been an advocate of big government. We can't afford big government anymore. We're overspent. We're $15 trillion in debt.

And so both Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich represent the big government frugal socialist wing of the party. And I represent the true constitutional conservative wing of our party.

SCHIEFFER: If it came down to it, could you see yourself supporting either one of these men if they got the nomination?

BACHMANN: Well, the one thing we know is we won't have Barack Obama as our president, because the American people have made that decision. But what they want is a true bold distinct difference. And there's no candidate on that stage last night, Bob, that has more of a bold, distinct difference than I have. I can hold Barack Obama accountable on every issue because I've been fighting him consistently during his presidency on this issue.

SCHIEFFER: Just yes or no though. Could you support either one of them if it came down to one of them?

BACHMANN: Well, intend to be the nominee. I'm not giving up. I fully intend to be the nominee of our party.

SCHIEFFER: All right.

You seem to have hurt Donald Trump's feelings somewhere along the way here. He said what is it about loyalty that you've been trying to get his endorsement and then all of a sudden he wants to have a debate and moderate it and you turned him down. What's that all about?

BACHMANN: Oh, Donald Trump is a big boy. These things happen. Clearly there is an attempt to have a debate. And no one was taken the bait to come to this debate. And so at a certain point it didn't even make any sense for me to go to it either. Only Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum said they were going to go. And clearly it wasn't going to be a debate.

I'm a serious candidate for the Republican nomination for president of the United States. And we need to have a debate where everyone is participating.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, I thank you very much Ms. Bachmann for joining us this morning. I hope we'll see you again down the trail.

BACHMANN: Thank you, Bob.

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