The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, who formally launched her bid for the Republican presidential nomination in her hometown of Waterloo, Iowa, today, begins with the wind at her back, but also lingering questions about her sometimes bizarre personality.

She referenced her Iowa upbringing as many times as possible in the speech, going so far as to say, “Everything I needed to know I learned in Iowa,” and that, “I want you to know how grateful I am, how thankful I am for Waterloo, for this wonderful, decent, God-fearing community.”

She was a bit overzealous when she told Fox News in an interview prior to the announcement that the late actor/director John Wayne was from Waterloo as well and that she had his spirit.

What she didn’t seem to realize was that the John Wayne from Waterloo was John Wayne Gacy, the serial killer executed in 1994 for committing some 33 murders; the movie star was from Winterset, a few hours away.

The Des Moines Register, which accurately predicted both the Democratic and Republican winners in the January 2008 caucuses, released its first poll on Saturday, showing Bachmann at 22 percent support, second only to frontrunner Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, at 23 percent. Romney led in early Iowa polls in 2007 before being upset by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Bachmann’s campaign is being run by Ed Rollins, who steered Huckabee’s effort last time around.

Her appeal to the Evangelical and Tea Party base in the state is undoubtedly strong, in part because of statements like those she made on the Sunday talk show circuit yesterday.

Asked by Bob Scheiffer on “Face the Nation” whether she felt God wanted her to seek the presidency, she essentially said yes.

“I became a Christian at 16 years old, I gave my heart to Jesus Christ and since that time I’ve been a person of prayer. When I pray, I pray believing that God will speak to me and give me an answer to that prayer, and so that’s what a calling is. If I pray, a calling means that I have a sense from God which direction I’m supposed to go. It means I have a sense of assurance about the direction I think that God is speaking into my heart that I should go,” she said.

Speaking more to the Tea Party set–she founded their caucus in Congress–she stood by a 2005 statement where she asserted that eliminating the minimum wage would “wipe out” unemployment, and said it would be on the table in economic policy discussions should she win the presidency.

The minimum wage was established at the federal level by Franklin Roosevelt in 1938.

But the Sunday appearances and a widely-hailed debate performance in New Hampshire recently are part of an orchestrated effort to control her appearances and boost her gravitas, stepping back from some of her more outrageous statements, including her 2008 claim that there are “Anti-American” members of Congress and, more recently, that the U.S. Census requires her only to tell the government the number of individuals living in her home, which is false.

Advertising

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Sen. Bernie Sanders, left, and President Joe Biden during 2020 presidential debate

I look at September 2019 as a month where I missed something. We began with a trip to New York to do Seth Meyers’s and Dr. Oz’s shows. Why would we go on The Dr. Oz Show? For the same reason we had gone on Joe Rogan’s podcast in August: We could reach a vast audience that wasn’t paying attention to the standard political media. On Dr. Oz, Bernie could talk about Medicare for All and his own physical fitness. While at the time we believed Bernie was uncommonly healthy for his age, he was still 78. Questions would be raised related to his age, and we needed to begin building up the case that he was completely healthy and fit. It turned out to be a spectacular interview, ending with the two of them playing basketball on a makeshift court in the studio. Bernie appeared to be on top of the world.

Yet in retrospect, I should have seen Bernie growing more fatigued. After New York, with the school year starting, we did a series of rallies at colleges and universities in Iowa; this was the kickoff of our campus organizing program in the state. We would then fly to Colorado for a large rally in Denver before heading to Boulder to prep for the third debate, to take place in Houston on September 12. In Iowa, Bernie’s voice was a little hoarse. After the rally in Denver, he had completely blown it out. He sounded terrible.

Keep reading... Show less

Rep. James Clyburn

When I interviewed House Majority Whip James Clyburn in 2014 about his memoir Blessed Experiences: Genuinely Southern, Proudly Black, the South Carolina Democrat was confident in America’s ability to find its way, no matter how extreme the political swings might appear at any given time.

“The country from its inception is like the pendulum on a clock,” the congressman told me. “It goes back and forward. It tops out to the right and starts back to the left — it tops out to the left and starts back to the right.” And remember, he said, it “spends twice as much time in the center.”

Keep reading... Show less
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}