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NBC "Meet the Press" - Transcript


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REP. BACHMANN: Thank you, David. Good to be with you this morning.

MR. GREGORY: There's a, there's a lot to discuss on the campaign trail. But I have to ask you first about this horrible events--series of events at Penn State and ask you whether you think, as a national figure, whether there is a role for Congress to pay--play in investigating this, where you think the national conversation has to go from here on what has happened at Penn State.

REP. BACHMANN: Well, this is a national conversation. And I--the lens that I look at this through is as a mother. I, I'm a mother of five biological children and 23 foster children, and my heart is--I think is reflective of that of the American people. This is so horrific on the level of a parent. I think about my children, if that was my child. And I think my automatic reaction would be, even though I'm a small woman, I'd want to go find that guy and beat him to a pulp. I think that's what any parent would want to do when they think about their child. But, clearly, this is very high-profile now, as it should be. And I have no doubt that this will--with the--this level of scrutiny justice will be done. And this is a state matter; it needs to stay at the state level. And I think that it's good that the media's paying a lot of attention to this because this should never happen to any child.

MR. GREGORY: Just, just one more on this. You say it's a state matter. As you know, the Department of Education is looking into this, as well, to see if there's an area where federal law applies. Do you think it's a matter for Congress to get involved in? As you know, Congress can look at anything. They did in terms of steroids. They could look at it in terms of, you know, institutional abuse or a conspiracy of silence.

REP. BACHMANN: Well, I think that that's--the pendulum swings, and when something horrific happens people's automatic reaction is somebody needs to do something. But it doesn't necessarily mean that this issue should be kicked up to Congress. I really do believe this needs to stay exactly in the jurisdiction where the offense occurred. Congress has a lot of other things to pay attention to. But I think this needs to be handled. And, again, I think this is one place the media gets beaten up a lot, but I think this is exactly where the nedia--media's needed more than ever is to bring light on this situation. That's the best thing that can be done.

MR. GREGORY: All right. Let me switch gears now and talk about the important issues of this campaign, as well, and talk about your standing in the campaign. Here's a flier that you are circulating; and, as a key point it makes is that "I am the one true conservative in the race and I can win." You've got a book coming out, and here's the cover of it. "Core of Conviction: My Story." What is the distinguishing characteristic as a conservative between you and Mitt Romney?

REP. BACHMANN: Well, I think the distinguishing characteristic is that I have been consistent throughout my career. I'm 55 years old, I spent 50 years in the real world and then five years in the lion's den in Washington, D.C., fighting against out of--all of the out-of-control spending. Probably the number one thing between Governor Romney and myself--it's not personal, it's just issues--would be the fact that I was the lead opponent of President Obama's Obamacare. That's the government takeover of health care. Governor Romney instituted that program in Massachusetts, and it's--I think it's highly unlikely to think that he will be the one who'll be able to fully repeal Obamacare as president of the United States. I brought 40,000 Americans to Washington, D.C., to fight against the implementation of Obamacare. I have the commitment, and I also wrote the law, the legislation to repeal Obamacare. So I have that core of conviction...

MR. GREGORY: As you...

REP. BACHMANN: ...and I'll see this through so that we can get back to patient-centered care. And really the real issue is to bring costs down in health care.


REP. BACHMANN: Unfortunately, that's not what Obamacare brought.

MR. GREGORY: As you know, the president's senior adviser, David Plouffe, said on this program about Mitt Romney, he has "no core." Do you agree with that?

REP. BACHMANN: Well, there's certainly a sharp contrast between myself and Governor Romney. He has been pro-choice, I am pro-life. He has been for marriage between people of the same sex. I am for marriage between one man and one woman. Obamacare obviously. If you go issue after issue, Governor Romney has been on both sides of the issues; I've been on one side of the issues. I make no apologies. And that's why I say I have a core of conviction. And of all of the candidates in the race, you won't find any surprises, and that's why I invite your viewers to go to, and that website shows the compare and contrast between the candidates. There's no surprises with me. So

MR. GREGORY: One of the surprises in this race were sexual harassment allegations against Herman Cain. His lawyer said this week that other women should "think twice before making allegations." You talk about yourself as a woman in the race, as a mom in the race. Are these disqualifying allegations, in your mind, if proven to be true for Herman Cain?

REP. BACHMANN: Well, of course, that would be for the voters to decide. But that is--that's something that would have to be proven. On one hand, it's a terrible thing to be falsely accused of something that you didn't do. But on the other hand women have the right to be protected in the workplace. And so, ultimately, it really depends on the truth of these allegations. I have no information about that, so I don't have anything I can share. But I think that, again, that will be up to the voters to decide.

This race, if anything, David, has proved to be extremely fluid. The voters have not made up their minds. This is wide open. It's a state-by-state race. It's Iowa first, then New Hampshire, then South Carolina, and on to Florida. And that's what we're paying attention to, is the schedule of these early primaries. And I think that we have a very good chance. After all, I won the Iowa straw poll in less time than any other candidate in the history of the straw poll.

MR. GREGORY: Well...

REP. BACHMANN: And I'm the first woman...

MR. GREGORY: ...let me ask you about that.

REP. BACHMANN: ever win the Iowa straw poll.

MR. GREGORY: Well, right, and you had, you had a lot of momentum after that, but it seemed to have been taken away when Rick Perry got into the race. You fell down in the polls. You're now at four percent in our most recent poll. And yet, Rick Perry appears to be stumbling. How do you get back to a place where you're in that top tier?

REP. BACHMANN: That--well, that's a very good question. I think doing exactly what we're doing right now. I'll be getting on a plane and flying back to Iowa from South Carolina today. And what we're doing is meeting with people on the ground. We have a very good organization in Iowa. We have a, a lot of identified supporters. And so we need to do the very hard work of meeting people and greeting people, talking to them, listening to them, and organizing. Because Iowa is a caucus state. It's getting your actual supporters out to the caucus, and then they make their decision. It's a great form of government. It's true grassroots politics. Then, from there, on to New Hampshire, and then on to South Carolina. So we're doing exactly what we could do, and I think that the momentum is turning in our direction.

MR. GREGORY: So let's take a few minutes and talk about a few quick issues. Foreign policy was the topic last night at the debate. You said you would reinstate waterboarding in terms of how detainees, terror detainees are treated when they are in--held, held captive, held prisoner. You went on to say the following here about the president's foreign policy. Watch.

(Videotape, last night)

REP. BACHMANN: Today, under Barack Obama, he is allowing the ACLU to run the CIA. It is as though we have decided we want to lose in the war on terror under President Obama. That's not my strategy.

(End of videotape)

MR. GREGORY: That the president almost wanted to lose the war on terror, did you feel that way after he killed Osama bin Laden, ordering that raid? Did you feel that way after he ordered more drone attacks on terrorists in Pakistan than the previous administration?

REP. BACHMANN: Those are good tactical moods that, that were made, and those, I, I, I think all Americans would agree with. But the bigger picture, the strategic blunders that this administration has made have had profound consequences. And this is what we need to understand. We are conducting a war on terror, but when we have--we have no jail for terrorists. So what this means is either we kill them or we release them.

MR. GREGORY: But that's not true, Congresswoman.

REP. BACHMANN: We also have no ability, we...

MR. GREGORY: We have Guantanamo Bay. We have some secret prisons that have remained open. That's simply been looked at and found to be not true. They have--and there are other ways that they can actually be held for some smaller determined period of time on ships, on Navy ships in the region as well.

REP. BACHMANN: We all know that that isn't a long-term solution to this problem. We aren't adding any new terrorists to Guantanamo Bay. We only have Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the admitted mastermind of 9/11, who is at Guantanamo Bay, and others as well. But we don't have a place to put al-Qaeda when we pick them up. It's either catch and release, which is a terrible idea, or we have to kill them. What we need to win this war on terror is interrogation. This is where my comment about the ACLU comes in because today the CIA is no longer able to go through the interrogation that yielded such profitable information that saved American lives. That's what I'm interested in, David.

MR. GREGORY: But you, but you realize, you realize...

REP. BACHMANN: ...saving American lives and winning...

MR. GREGORY: Understood.

REP. BACHMANN: ...the war on terror.

MR. GREGORY: You say that...

REP. BACHMANN: And so this is a, this is a real difference.


REP. BACHMANN: The only thing--let me add this.


REP. BACHMANN: The, the, the only thing that we have available to us today is the Army field manual. That's online. So terrorists can go ahead and read ahead of time what will happen to them when we capture them, and it's really, effectively, when we capture them today, it's a slap on the wrist. I want to save American lives, and that's why I want the CIA...


REP. BACHMANN: have every interrogation tool available to them...

MR. GREGORY: One more, one more on this.

REP. BACHMANN: that we can win the war on terror.

MR. GREGORY: Congresswoman, one more on this. You say the ACLU is taking over the CIA, run now by General David Petraeus. You understand...

REP. BACHMANN: Their philosophy. Their...

MR. GREGORY: OK. You, you...

REP. BACHMANN: Their philosophy.

MR. GREGORY: I understand that. I understand, I understand that's what you mean.

REP. BACHMANN: Yes, I agree. I believe, I...

MR. GREGORY: No, no, let me just make the point. Your view that waterboarding should be reinstituted, you understand that puts you at odds with most of the generals, OK, the former Republican nominee of your party John McCain, General Colin Powell. You realize you're on the opposite end of what they believe? Do you not trust them and their views?

REP. BACHMANN: Well, but what, but I, but I'm on the same side as Vice President Cheney on this issue, and others as well. Because, I, again, what we're looking at is what will save American lives. And that's what the most important thing is. We've got, we've got to decide that we want to defeat the terrorists. And when we make that decision, we need to, we need to employ the methods that will best help us to defeat them. And President Obama is not doing that. Again, President Obama was given a war that is won in Iraq, and he's choosing to lose the peace. That's a desecration of the memory of 4400 Americans that gave their lives to liberate Iraq. And also, it's over $800 billion that we have expended. I believe that Iraq should pay us back for the money that we spent. And I believe that Iraq should pay the families that lost a loved one several million dollars per life...

MR. GREGORY: All right.

REP. BACHMANN: ...I think, at minimum. This is, this, this is a terrible situation that the United, that the president has left the, the war on terror in.

MR. GREGORY: All right. We're going to leave it there. More discussion to come. Congresswoman, thank you.

REP. BACHMANN: Thank you.


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