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Seriously Extreme: Rep. Bachmann's Journey To GOP Presidential Candidate

June 27, 2011 11:28 am ET

Today, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) formally announced that she is seeking the Republican presidential nomination at an event in Iowa. In a field of lackluster candidates, Bachmann is an unabashedly polarizing figure whose statements, agenda, and policy positions are not only often factually inaccurate but are also frequently imbued with extreme, hateful, homophobic and even violent rhetoric. The fact that she is considered a viable representation of the Republican party sends a stark message about the toxicity of the GOP in 2012. Often the Affordable Care Act's most apoplectic opponent, Bachmann has suggested that health care reform will result in "death panels" as well as "school-based sex clinics," and that it could allow a 13-year-old girl can be taken to an abortion clinic during a school day to "have their abortion, be back and go home on the school bus that night...mom and dad are never the wiser." She has rallied those against the Affordable Care Act to stand together, saying, "What we have to do today is make a covenant, to slit our wrists, be blood brothers on this thing." She has used such extreme rhetoric to oppose other policies as well, calling the federal tax code a "weapon of mass destruction" and referring to Wall Street reform as "thuggish." Additionally, Bachmann has proposed eliminating the minimum wage and cutting billions from veterans' benefits. She also voted against a bill providing for 9/11 first responders' health care and then bragged about it, calling it "new spending." Michele Bachmann's increasing legitimacy as a presidential contender speaks volumes about the atmosphere within the Republican party today.

Extreme Rhetoric: Warnings Of "Re-Education Camps" And "A Nation Of Slaves"

Bachmann Warned Of Government-Created "Re-Education Camps For Young People." According to the Minnesota Independent: "U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann says she fears the Obama administration will create 're-education camps for young people, where young people have to go and get trained in a philosophy that the government puts forward and then they have to go to work in some of these politically correct forums.'" [Minnesota Independent, 4/6/09]

Bachmann Called The Federal Tax Code A "Weapon Of Mass Destruction." According to the Minnesota Independent: "Rep. Michele Bachmann was on a tear: In one of her most fiery stump speeches to date, the tea party leader told a South Carolina audience that the tax code was a 'weapon of mass destruction,' that President Obama is 'babying' terrorists, that the rich pay too much in taxes, that social issues like marriage and abortion cannot be put on the 'back burner,' and that Fox News' Glenn Beck can solve America's budget deficit." [Minnesota Independent, 2/21/11]

Bachmann Warned We May Be "Turning Our Country Into A Nation Of Slaves." According to the Colorado Independent: "'We are determined to live free or not at all. And we are resolved that posterity shall never reproach us with having brought slaves into the world,' Bachmann read from founding father John Jay, ending her reading with the statement, 'We will talk a little bit about what has transpired in the last 18 months and would we count what has transpired into turning our country into a nation of slaves.'" [Colorado Independent, 7/10/10]

Bachmann Linked The U.S. Census Bureau To WWII Internment Camps. According to a Talking Points Memo:

During an interview this morning on Fox News, Bachmann mostly focused on the danger of her personal information falling into the hands of the dreaded menace ACORN. But at one point, she made a very interesting appeal to history:

"Take this into consideration. If we look at American history, between 1942 and 1947, the data that was collected by the Census Bureau was handed over to the FBI and other organizations at the request of President Roosevelt, and that's how the Japanese were rounded up and put into the internment camps," said Bachmann. "I'm not saying that that's what the Administration is planning to do, but I am saying that private personal information that was given to the Census Bureau in the 1940s was used against Americans to round them up, in a violation of their constitutional rights, and put the Japanese in internment camps." [Talking Points Memo, 6/25/09]

Bachmann Suggested Democrats Are To Blame For Flu Epidemics. According to an interview with Pajamas Media, reported by Talking Points Memo: "'I find it interesting that it was back in the 1970s that the swine flu broke out then under another Democrat president Jimmy Carter,' said Bachmann. 'And I'm not blaming this on President Obama, I just think it's an interesting coincidence.' As the Minneapolis/St. Paul City Pages points out, Bachmann has the 1970s flu outbreak all wrong. It happened in 1976 when Gerald Ford was in office." [Talking Points Memo, 4/28/09]

Bachmann Speculated Democrats Want To Sabotage Her And Sarah Palin To Make Sure The First Woman President Is A Democrat. During a Mike Gallagher radio interview, Bachmann stated:  "Also with women politicians, they want to make sure no women, no woman becomes president before a Democrat woman, and so they're doing everything they can to, I think, sabotage women like Sarah Palin, perhaps women like myself, or similarly situated women, to make sure that we don't have a prominent national voice.  But the thing is, the people in our country, they don't care who the voice is, they just want someone, they want to know that someone is speaking out for them against what will certainly bring about the destruction of our great country if we continue to go down the Obama path." [The Mike Gallagher Show, 9/4/09, via Political Correction]

Bachmann Suggested People Who Oppose Waterboarding Are Defending Terrorists. From Talking Points Memo:

During an appearance last night on The O'Reilly Factor, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and Bill O'Reilly tried to sort out just why liberals seem to be so up in arms about former President George W. Bush's authorization of waterboarding.

"He protected us. He had to dunk these three guys. And he did, and he got information. And, we captured a whole bunch of really bad, bad people from it," said O'Reilly. "Could he have gotten it another way? Maybe, maybe, okay? But, he had guys sitting there, he had psychiatrists sitting there, he had medical doctors sitting there. So, to me, I would have done the same thing. But to hear the left, this is the worst thing the United States has ever done, we're a terrible country for doing it. Why? Why are they doing this?"

Bachmann then replied sternly: "Well, it almost seems as though they need to come up with some sort of a case to defend the people who are making this action, the radical terrorist. And here, take a look at the terrorists who have beheaded people like Daniel Pearl. They don't think twice about that." [Talking Points Memo, 12/10/10, emphasis added]

Bachmann Called Wall Street Reform "Thuggish." During an interview on Fox News' Hannity, Bachmann stated: "But the main thing right now really is the government takeover of private industry and we're seeing that in one sector after another. And the worst is this new financial regulation bill where the federal government wants to decide who will get credit in the future in the United States. They want to decide when a bank teller in Peoria, Illinois will make and they also want to give permanent bailout authority to the federal government and bypass Congress. That is the federal government coming in in a real thuggish way, if you will, and taking over the boardrooms of private industry." [Hannity, 4/19/10, via FoxNews.com]

Bachmann Called Auto Bailouts "Gangster Government." According to the Minnesota Independent: "Rep. Michele Bachmann took to the floor of the House of Representatives twice Tuesday, likening the United States to the Titanic and lambasting 'gangster government' for meddling in carmakers' affairs - though she boasts on her Web site of doing the same auto dealership-advocacy she decries Democrats for." [Minnesota Independent, 6/10/11]

Bachmann Called Planned Parenthood "The LensCrafters Of Big Abortion." According to Roll Call:

Bachmann recently launched into a screed against Planned Parenthood, calling it "the LensCrafters of big abortion." She apparently used the metaphor to imply that Planned Parenthood was a ubiquitous, one-stop shop that makes its services convenient - just like LensCrafters, which offers eye exams and prescription glasses on the fly.

But LensCrafters didn't like the comparison. A company spokeswoman tells HOH that it contacted Bachmann's office Tuesday asking that she stop using its name. "She's using our name without our knowledge or permission," says Julie Maslov, communications director for Luxottica Retail, LensCrafters' parent company. [Roll Call, 4/13/11]

Extreme Policy Positions: 9/11 First Responders And Energy-Saving Light Bulbs

Bachmann Bragged About Voting Against 9/11 First Responders' Health Care Bill. According to a press release from Rep. Bachmann: "The heroes who responded on 9/11 deserve to be made whole, but the measure which passed the House today falls short, and that's why I voted against it. This bill will create an expensive new federal program without proper oversight to ensure that taxpayer funds are spent correctly. It also extends and expands the Victims Compensation Fund (VCF), which was established by Congress just eight days after the tragic September 11th attacks." [Bachmann.House.gov, 12/22/10]

Bachmann Thinks Energy-Saving Light Bulbs Are A "Very Real Threat To Children, Disabled People, Pets, Senior Citizens." From Rolling Stone: "[Bachmann] launched a fierce campaign against compact fluorescent lights, claiming that the energy-saving bulbs contain mercury and pose a 'very real threat to children, disabled people, pets, senior citizens.'" [Rolling Stone, 6/22/11]

Bachmann: "I Want People In Minnesota Armed And Dangerous On This Issue Of Energy Tax." According to Talking Points Memo:

Bachmann appeared over the weekend on the First Team radio show with John Hinderaker and Brian Ward, speaking about the horrible stuff that the Democrats are doing: "I'm a foreign correspondent on enemy lines and I try to let everyone back here in Minnesota know exactly the nefarious activities that are taking place in Washington."

Bachmann also spoke out against the cap-and-trade proposals currently making their way through Washington, and how she'll be distributing information against it at an upcoming event in the district. "I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax, because we need to fight back," said Bachmann. "Thomas Jefferson told us, having a revolution every now and then is a good thing. And the people - we the people - are going to have to fight back hard if we're not going to lose our country." [Talking Points Memo, 3/23/09]

Bachmann Proposed Cutting $4.5 Billion From Veterans' Benefits. According to the Air Force Times: "Tea party favorite Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., has unveiled a plan for cutting $400 billion in federal spending that includes freezing Veterans Affairs Department health care spending and cutting veterans' disability benefits. Her proposed VA budget cuts would account for $4.5 billion of the savings included in the plan, posted on her official House of Representatives website." [Air Force Times, 1/28/11]

Bachmann Argued Eliminating The Minimum Wage Would Result In Universal Employment. According to the New York Times: "Ms. Bachmann, who was born and raised in Anoka, Garrison Keillor's hometown, is technically a daughter of Lake Wobegon, but there the resemblance ends. She holds a law degree from Oral Roberts University. As a Minnesota state legislator, she spoke out against the minimum wage, arguing that eliminating it would result in universal employment." [New York Times9/24/06]

Bachmann's Vision Of Health Care Reform: Death Panels, Abortion Field Trips, And School Sex Clinics

Bachmann: "Death Panels" Will "Decide What We Can And Can't Get In Future Health Insurance Policy." During an interview on Glenn Beck's radio show, Bachmann stated: "Well, anything is possible.  It'll be very difficult.  Also, we're just reading this morning, Chris, that Harry Reid slipped in a provision that made it virtually impossible to repeal part of this legislation.  And it's the part dealing with the Medicare Advisory Board -- what many people have labeled the death panels -- because these unelected bureaucracies will decide what we can and can't get in future health insurance policy.  That's why they're called death panels.  And in that particular part of the legislation, Harry Reid writes that we're not allowed to repeal these boards.  I think that may be subject to a constitutional attack." [The Glenn Beck Program12/23/09, via Political Correction]

Bachmann Warned Health Care Reform Could Set Up Abortion Field Trips And School-Based Sex Clinics. From MinnPost.com:

In a speech on the House floor yesterday, Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., claimed that that health-care reform bills would establish school "sex clinics," which would exclude parents from their children's health decisions, including abortion. 

"What does that mean?" Bachmann said. "It means that parents will never know what kind of counsel and treatment that their children are receiving. As a matter of fact, the bill goes on to say what's going to go on - comprehensive primary health services, physicals, treatment of minor acute medical conditions, referrals to follow-up for specialty care."
 
"Is that abortion?" Bachmann continued. "Does that mean that someone's 13-year old daughter could walk into a sex clinic, have a pregnancy test done, be taken away to the local Planned Parenthood abortion clinic, have their abortion, be back, and go home on the school bus that night? Mom and dad are never the wiser. They don't know any different." [MinnPost.com, 10/1/09, emphasis added]

Bachmann: To Oppose Health Care Reform We Must "Make A Covenant, To Slit Our Wrists, Be Blood Brothers." According to the Colorado Independent: "In a fiery speech that had her conservative Colorado audience cheering, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann railed against the dangers of health care reform and other Democratic initiatives, warning the proposals 'have the strength to destroy this country forever.' 'This cannot pass,' the Minnesota Republican told a crowd at a Denver gathering sponsored by the Independence Institute. 'What we have to do today is make a covenant, to slit our wrists, be blood brothers on this thing. This will not pass. We will do whatever it takes to make sure this doesn't pass.'" [Colorado Independent, 8/31/09]

Bachmann: The Affordable Care Act "Includes Illegal Immigrants." According to a blog post by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) on Townhall.com: "It's clear that a bill that is silent on eligibility means a bill that includes illegal immigrants."[Townhall.com, 7/28/09]

Anti-Obama: Bachmann Called The President "Anti-American" And Toed The Birther Line

Bachmann Accused The President And His Wife Of Being "Anti-American." From the Huffington Post:

"If we look at the collection of friends that Barack Obama has had in his life," she said, "it calls into question what Barack Obama's true beliefs and values and thoughts are. His attitudes, values, and beliefs with Jeremiah Wright on his view of the United States...is negative; Bill Ayers, his negative view of the United States. We have seen one friend after another call into question his judgment -- but also, what it is that Barack Obama really believes?" [...]

"Remember it was Michele Obama who said she is only recently proud of her country and so these are very anti-American views," she said. "That's not the way that most Americans feel about our country. Most Americans are wild about America and they are very concerned to have a president who doesn't share those values." [Huffington Post, 10/17/10]

One Year Later, Bachmann Compared Herself To Nostradamus For Predicting Obama's "Anti-American Views." According to Politico: "Bachmann also said that her controversial remarks of more than a year ago - in which she called Obama 'anti-American' and suggested members of Congress be investigated for "anti-American activities' - have proven prophetic. 'I said I had very serious concerns that Barack Obama had anti-American views,' she said. 'And now I look like Nostradamus.'" [Politico, 3/25/10]

  • Bachmann Also Called For Investigations Into Whether Members Of Congress Are "Anti-America." According to the Huffington Post, Bachmann stated during an interview on MSNBC's Hardball: "What I would say is that the news media should do a penetrating expose and take a look. I wish they would. I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out if they are pro-America or anti-America." [Huffington Post, 10/17/10]

Bachmann Abandoned Birthers On ABC, Backtracked On Fox. According to City Pages:

We keep asking why Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann has such a hard time saying that Barack Obama is an American, and suddenly there she is on "Good Morning America," breaking her bond with the birthers.

Stephanopoulos: I have the president's certificate right here. It's certified, it's got a certification number, it's got the registrar of the state signed, it's got a seal on it and it says that this copy serves as prima fascia evidence of the fact of birth in any court proceeding. 

Bachmann: Well, then that should settle it. 

Stephanopoulos: Then it's over.

Bachmann: That's what should settle it. I take the president at his word and I think--again I would have no problem and apparently the president wouldn't either. Introduce that, we're done. Move on.

Stephanopoulos: So this case--this story's over.

Bachmann: Well, as long as someone introduces it, I guess it's over.

Stephanopoulos: It's right there.

Bachmann: Yup, there you go. Because that is not the main issue facing the United States right now. 

But later on "Fox & Friends," after she'd seen the document in the public domain and the proof that it represents the fact of birth in any legal proceeding, she was back to insisting that the president "be forthcoming."

I take the president at his word if he said he was born there, he was born there. But again, this is a very solvable problem and the president is the only one who can solve it, be forthcoming and get it over with.
[City Pages, 4/21/11]

Anti-Gay: Bachmann Invoked "Satan," "Bondage" And "Personal Enslavement" In Attacks On Gay People

Daily Beast: Bachmann Believes "That Homosexuality Can Be Cured." From The Daily Beast: "In the statehouse, Bachmann made opposition to gay marriage her signature issue. Both she and her husband, by all accounts her most trusted political adviser, believe that homosexuality can be cured. Speaking to a Christian radio station about gay teenagers last year, Marcus, who treats gay people in his counseling practice, said, 'Barbarians need to be educated. They need to be disciplined, and just because someone feels this or thinks this, doesn't mean that we're supposed to go down that road.'" [The Daily Beast6/14/11]

Bachmann: "It's Part Of Satan" To Call Homosexuality "Gay." From The Daily Beast: "In 2004, Bachmann gave a speech warning that gay marriage would lead to schoolchildren being indoctrinated into homosexuality. She wanted everyone to know, though, that she doesn't hate gay people. 'Any of you who have members of your family in the lifestyle, we have a member of our family that is,' she said. 'This is not funny. It's a very sad life. It's part of Satan, I think, to say that this is gay.'" [The Daily Beast6/14/11]

Bachmann Suggested Melissa Etheridge's Breast Cancer Was An "Opportunity" To Reflect On Being A Lesbian. From Mother Jones: "2004: Songwriter Melissa Etheridge has breast cancer. That's bad news. But there's good news too, Bachmann tells the conservative education group EdWatch: maybe the cancer will give her time to reflect on her sinful lifestyle: 'Unfortunately she is now suffering from breast cancer, so keep her in your prayers. This may be an opportunity for her now to be open to some spiritual things, now that she is suffering with that physical disease. She is a lesbian.' In the same speech, she alleges that 'almost all, if not all, individuals who have gone into the lifestyle have been abused at one time in their life, either by a male or by a female.'" [Mother Jones, 6/6/11, emphasis original]

Bachmann Is So Anti-Gay She Introduced "Redundant" And "Unnecessary" Legislation Barring Gay Marriage In Minnesota. According to Rolling Stone: "In 2003, after the Massachusetts Supreme Court issued its famous ruling permitting gay marriage, Bachmann proposed an amendment to the Minnesota constitution banning gay marriage - despite the fact that the state legislature had already passed a law making same-sex unions illegal. Even the politicians who were sufficiently gay-phobic to have passed the original anti-­marriage law were floored by the brazen pointlessness of Bachmann's bill. 'It's unnecessary, it's redundant, it's duplicative,' said Assistant Senate Majority Leader Ann Rest." [Rolling Stone, 6/22/11]

Bachmann Warned "Little K-12 Children Will Be Forced To Learn That Homosexuality Is Normal, Natural, And Perhaps They Should Try It." From Rolling Stone: "Right from the start, she made sure that everyone knew the awesome importance of the task she was taking on, trying to outlaw an already outlawed practice. 'This is probably the biggest issue that will impact our state and our nation in, at least, the last 30 years,' she said. She called gay marriage an 'earthquake issue,' insisting that failure to pass her proposal would mean that 'sex curriculum would essentially be taught by the gay community' and that 'little K-12 children will be forced to learn that homosexuality is normal, natural, and perhaps they should try it.'" [Rolling Stone, 6/22/11]

Bachmann: Being Gay Is "Bondage" And "Personal Enslavement." According to Think Progress, Bachmann stated: "Why is it so dangerous? It leads to the personal enslavement of individuals. Because if you're involved in the gay and lesbian lifestyle, it's bondage. Personal bondage, personal despair, and personal enslavement. And that's why this is so dangerous." [Think Progress, 6/14/11]

Anti-Feminist: Bachmann Believes Wives Must Be "Submissive"

Bachmann: "I Admire Phyllis Schlafly. She Is A Bold, Modern American Woman."  According to an interview with World Net Daily:

Q. Is there anyone you envy? If so, who and why?

A. I admire Phyllis Schlafly. She is a bold, modern American woman who broke through barriers and never received the credit she deserved for working tirelessly to preserve freedom. And she single-handedly brought down the Equal Rights Amendment. [World Net Daily, 10/14/10]

  • Phyllis Schlafly Is An Anti-Feminist Activist Who Thinks Women Can't Be Raped By Their Husbands. From the Lewiston, Maine Sun Journal:

For four decades, right-wing icon Phyllis Schlafly has been an anti-feminist spokeswoman for the national conservative movement.

Schlafly, now 81, brought her long-running campaign to Bates College on Wednesday night in a lecture titled "Conservativism vs. Feminism: The Great Debate," which played to a near-capacity crowd of more than 135 students and visitors at Chase Hall.

The event was sponsored by the Bates College Republicans.

For nearly two hours, she belittled the feminist movement as "teaching women to be victims," decried intellectual men as "liberal slobs" and argued that feminism "is incompatible with marriage and motherhood." [...]

At one point, Schlafly also contended that married women cannot be sexually assaulted by their husbands.

"By getting married, the woman has consented to sex, and I don't think you can call it rape," she said. [Sun Journal, 3/29/07, via Nexis]

Bachmann: Wives Must Be "Submissive To Your Husbands." During a speech in 2006 at Living Word Christian Center in Minnesota, Bachmann stated: "And I went to the first Christian law school that there was in the United States, down at Oral Roberts University, where they taught the law from a Biblical worldview. And from there my husband said, now you need to go and get a post-doctorate degree in tax law. Tax law? I hate taxes. Why should I go and do something like that? But the Lord says be submissive, wives you are to be submissive to your husbands. And so we moved to Virginia Beach, Virginia, and I went to William and Mary, to law school there, for a post-doctorate degree in tax law, and I pursued this course of study. Never had a tax course in my background, never had a desire for it, but by faith, I was going to be faithful to what I felt God was calling me to do through my husband." [Bachmann Remarks, 10/17/06, via Talking Points Memo]

Praise For Glenn Beck And Fox News

Bachmann Tells Fox News' Glenn Beck: "You Are The Nation's Educator." From an interview with Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) on Glenn Beck's radio program:

Beck: Congresswoman, congratulations. 

Bachmann: Glenn, thank you.  It is so awesome to see what happened last evening and it really was a fruition of a few years work by a tremendous number of coalitions saying we've got to be serious about taking our country back.  And you are the nation's educator.  You are the one that motivated people to get off the couch.  You taught us from your blackboard so that people today know the head of the SEIU, how the AFL-CIO, the Tides Foundation, they know all of this works together.  That highly educated and motivated people to such a great extent that people were able to go to explain to their friends and neighbors what was going on.  And the coalition grew and grew and grew.  And some people maligned it and called it the Tea Party.  And called them all sorts of pejorative terms.  But last night, after two years of Congress not listening, the people got to have their voices heard at the ballot box.  And it was overwhelming and astounding. [Political Correction, 11/3/10]

Bachmann's Economic Fix: "I Think If We Give Glenn Beck The Numbers, He Can Solve This." According to Talking Points Memo: "In a speech in Spartanburg, South Carolina on Saturday, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) offered some solutions to the country's financial woes, saying, 'We can't put the so called social issues on the back burner while we are solving our economic challenges because the family is the solution to those challenges. Bachmann offered that when it comes to entitlement reform, 'I think if we give Glenn Beck the numbers, he can solve this.'" [Talking Points Memo, 2/22/11]

Bachmann Fox News, Bill O'Reilly And Glenn Beck Are Where People Can "Find The Truth." From Think Progress:

In an interview with Fox News, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) kissed up to Bill O'Reilly and his audience, telling producer Jesse Watters, "The Factor is the factor. That's what's important." Bachmann then showered O'Reilly and Glenn Beck with her praise:

People vote with their feet. And they love Bill O'Reilly; they love Glenn Beck. They love the shows that are on Fox. That's what matters. Because people want to go where they can find truth. They obviously aren't finding truth over on some of these other channels. [Think Progress, 9/22/09, emphasis in original]