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WALLACE: Congresswoman Michele Bachmann won the Ames straw poll here in August, and just finished campaigning in all of Iowa's 99 counties.
Congresswoman, welcome back to you.
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN, R-MINN., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you, Chris.
WALLACE: Before we get to the Ron Paul issue, I want to ask you about the Des Moines Register poll which has you, quite frankly, 7 percent, running last among the six candidates seriously contesting Iowa. Do you have any hard evidence that the poll is wrong and that you're going to do much better than that on Tuesday night?
BACHMANN: Well, the evidence that we have is the 99-county tour that we just completed. It was very ambitious. But we had huge crowds. We've had 250 to 350 people come out at a stop and we saw literally, Chris, thousands of people making conversions on the spot. It was frankly after the Fox debate in Sioux City.
People really were very grateful. I think they saw in me, someone who can take it to Barack Obama in the debate, hold him accountable, and in particular, when I was questioning Ron Paul on his dangerous policies on allowing a nuclear Iran. That turned a light switch on for a lot of voters across Iowa. And people who weren't decided, decided.
And we have a lot of people who are going to come on Tuesday night who are undecided and what they have seen in me is a champion who can stand up for them and in particular, they see that of all of the candidates in the race, I'm the only one with current national security experience.
Our next president will be tested almost immediately. Look at what's happening in the Strait of Hormuz right now with Iran. I am prepared to be able to meet that challenge. That's what our next president will have to do.
WALLACE: But don't you have a big disadvantage. Your rivals are spending millions of dollars in campaign commercials, some positives, some negatives. You have not run a single TV commercial since Iowa in Ames back in August, until today when you're going to run commercials in the last two days before the caucuses. Isn't your campaign running on fumes?
BACHMANN: Well, what we're doing is we're running on the power of meeting with Iowans directly. Iowans are very independent people, and we made a very smart decision. We put 6,900 miles on our campaign bus. And we met with people everywhere across Iowa, living rooms and including the dinky cafe in Iowa. And we have been everywhere.
And people really appreciated it. People told us no other candidate has come here. You are the only candidate. That is not reflected in the polls and I think that's what people are going to see on Tuesday night. We saw a lot of enthusiasm.
WALLACE: All right. Let's talk about something that is reflected in the polls. You and Governor Perry and former Senator Rick Santorum are all going after some of the same voters. Evangelicals and social conservatives, specifically why would you make a better nominee and better president than Rick Santorum who as we see in the Des Moines Register poll is making a big late move?
BACHMANN: Well, I have very strong support among evangelicals. I think of all of the candidates, I have more pastor endorsements than any other candidates. And we had a caravan of pastors go all across Iowa making the case of why I would be the candidate.
I have an unassailable record on standing up for protecting life, marriage, religious liberty. I have also a record when it comes to fiscal policy. I was the only person who stood up this last summer and said, no, we can't allow Barack Obama to increase the debt ceiling -- in other words, increase the amount that we're putting on the credit card of our nation.
WALLACE: Why does that make you better than Santorum, who's pretty strong on a lot of those issues, too?
BACHMANN: Well, take a look at Senator Santorum. Senator Santorum lost his last election by a wider margin than any other sitting Republican senator. He lost that race. I won four races in the last four years, in the toughest years for Republicans -- in a liberal state like Minnesota, I won.
But also, if you look at the spending issue, Senator Santorum voted for the bridge to nowhere. He's depended earmarks. He is spending -- which is the number one issue -- he has been a big spender in Washington, D.C.
That's not what the American people are looking for. They want someone who is a fiscal conservative. I'm a tax lawyer who's gone to Washington to fight the out of control spending.
My record is one of being a fiscal conservative, as opposed to -- I'm not trashing the candidates. It's just a point of clarity. Senator Santorum has stood for earmarks, stood for spending. That's not what we want. We have to look at our record.
WALLACE: Let me ask you about your record. Since you came to Congress, you've gotten almost $4 million in earmarks for your district. And when the Republicans, the Republican leadership, wanted a moratorium on earmarks, you were one of the very few who said, no, I want an exception for transportation projects.
BACHMANN: No, actually, that's not true.
WALLACE: Are your hands also a little dirty when it comes to earmarks?
BACHMANN: Actually, that is not true. I took an earmark pledge during my very first year in office, and I have been earmark-free because I saw from the very first year --
WALLACE: You haven't gotten almost $4 million in earmarks?
BACHMANN: The very first year I came in, I put the request in and then I found out what this earmark system is about. And I took a pledge in that first term, I never requested another earmark since and I won't. And the bigger issue in all of this is, are we going to continue to increase the credit card limit in Washington.
And I'm the only voice in Washington that has said no to increasing the credit card limit.
WALLACE: Several Iowa pastors appealed to you and to Governor Perry and to Rick Santorum, one or two of you to drop out so that all of the social conservative vote could coalesce around one candidate. Now, you all have your rights and you all decided, no, you wanted to pursue your campaigns.
But will it be a defeat for social conservatives and their issues on Tuesday if as a result of the splintering of this vote, a Mitt Romney or a Ron Paul ends up winning Iowa?
BACHMANN: No, I think what we're going to see actually is a coming together of people on the issues, because they want not just a single issue candidate, they want the full complement of the candidate. And of all the candidates in the race, I'm the strongest fiscal conservative. I'm a private businesswoman who created a successful company and run it to this day. And I'm a federal tax lawyer and I have a proven record in Congress on fiscal issues.
But I'm strongest candidate on social issues, unassailable; the strongest candidate on national security. I started the Tea Party caucus in Washington and led 40,000 Americans to Washington to object to Obamacare. I have the best record of any candidate on fighting illegal immigration and its effect.
I am a full compliment candidate. That's what people want -- someone with a firm resolve. And that's what I brought to Washington.
I'm proven. I'm tested. And they want someone with the legacy of Reagan and I proved that in Washington.
WALLACE: I don't mean to interrupt but I want to give Governor Perry some time and I want to ask you about the issue I talked to Congressman Paul about.
Your Iowa state chair, Kent Sorenson, a state senator here, jumped ship, went to work last Wednesday for Ron Paul. You claim that he told you it was about money. But then when your deputy campaign manager, a fellow named Wes Enos said that's not true. It wasn't money -- he was let go.
Is your campaign in disarray?
BACHMANN: Oh, absolutely not. You know, the other part that you failed to report is that there are other people outside of the campaign who said that he also told them that he's received money. So, it's pretty clear.
The bigger issue in all of this, though, Chris, is the fact that after the FOX debate, we had tremendous momentum which continues to this day, because people saw how dangerous Ron Paul's policy is. If he would allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon, that would put the United States at risk. That's why we saw literally thousands of people jump ship and come aboard of my campaign and that's what we're going to see reflected on Tuesday night.
WALLACE: Congresswoman Bachman, I want to thank you so much for coming in on this first day of 2012. Good luck to you on Tuesday night.
BACHMANN: Thank you. Happy New Year to you and all the Fox viewers.
WALLACE: Thank you.
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