On Wednesday's Early Show, CBS's Erica Hill pressed Rep. Michele Bachmann during an interview about her attack on Newt Gingrich for his notorious 2008 commercial with Nancy Pelosi on climate change: "Why is that a bad thing, to try to work across the aisle?" This came just two days after the morning show wondered if Gingrich himself needed to "play a little more dirty...to win the bid."
Hill noted that "the Minnesota congresswoman is criticizing each of her fellow candidates for not being conservative enough" in a new online ad, and first asked Bachmann, "In that ad, there's...a clip of Newt Gingrich and Nancy Pelosi talking about the importance of working together. Why attack Newt Gingrich on that point, when so many Americans...really want their lawmakers to start working together in Washington to- finding some sort of way that they can work out a bipartisan answer to so many of the issues?"
The representative didn't directly answer the anchor's question, but emphasized that "we want to make sure that our candidate on the Republican side doesn't have any issues where the president of the United States is identical to our candidate....and that's why we want people to know about the differences." Hill then repeated her question: "You say you want to make sure they are not identical on any issue with President Obama. But again, when you look at that bit that you put in of Newt Gingrich and Nancy Pelosi talking about working together, why is that a bad thing, to try to work across the aisle?"
In reply, Bachmann highlighted, in part, that "he [Gingrich] was standing with Nancy Pelosi to advocate for a national sales tax on energy. That's not what we need right now in our economy." But the journalist wasn't satisfied with this answer, and followed up by asking, "You're not saying that it's a bad thing to work with people who may have a difference of opinion, especially when you're trying to do things to help the American people? Regardless of the issue, it's okay to have a discussion about different things and work across the aisle?"
Later in the interview, Hill hinted that the presidential candidate might have gone too far in attacking former President Bush in her upcoming memoir: "You touch on the TARP program, saying that at this point, he [Bush] and Secretary [Henry] Paulson had embraced kind of- quote, 'bail-out socialism.' Those are pretty strong words to use, especially the word 'socialism,' which, obviously, does not sit well with a number of conservatives."
On Monday's Early Show, during a segment with Bob Schieffer, fill-in anchor Rebecca Jarvis wondered if former Speaker Gingrich would "have to play a little more dirty...to take on the other GOP contenders to win the bid." Bizarrely, a mere two days later, the CBS morning show went on to target another Republican presidential candidate for doing just that.
The full transcript of Erica Hill's interview of Rep. Michele Bachmann on Wednesday's Early Show, which began at the top of the 8 am Eastern hour:
ERICA HILL: The latest presidential polling in Iowa shows four Republican candidates- Herman Cain, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, and Newt Gingrich- virtually tied for the lead in that key state. One-time Iowa frontrunner Michele Bachmann is trailing all of them by double digits. Now, the Minnesota congresswoman is criticizing each of her fellow candidates for not being conservative enough.
Congresswoman Bachmann joins us this morning from Storm Lake, Iowa. Nice to have you with us this morning.
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good to be with you, Erica. Thank you.
[CBS News Graphic: "Race For 2012: Bachmann On Critical Iowa Campaign"]
HILL: You have a new website out. You have a new ad on that website where you attack the other candidates- the other Republican candidates. You go after Mitt Romney on flip-flopping; you go after after Rick Perry on immigration; and in that ad, there's also a clip of Newt Gingrich and Nancy Pelosi talking about the importance of working together. Why attack Newt Gingrich on that point, when so many Americans have said- and you've seen, I know, the approval ratings for Congress- they really want their lawmakers to start working together in Washington to- finding some sort of way that they can work out a bipartisan answer to so many of the issues?
BACHMANN: Well, the website is called NoSurprises2012.com, and it highlights the differences between the candidates. I think when we come up to the point where we're going to be having a debate with Barack Obama, we want to make sure that our candidate on the Republican side doesn't have any issues where the president of the United States is identical to our candidate. That's why this is such an important website, NoSurprises2012.com, because it highlights the real difference that there are. And our candidates- many of them- are compromised with Barack Obama. I'm the only candidate in this race that has no compromise, and that's why we want people to know about the differences.
HILL: So you want them to know about the differences. You say you want to make sure they are not identical on any issue with President Obama. But again, when you look at that bit that you put in of Newt Gingrich and Nancy Pelosi talking about working together, why is that a bad thing, to try to work across the aisle?
BACHMANN: Well, this highlights just one of the many examples where former Speaker Newt Gingrich had positions that are really against what the people in the primary states are looking for. He was standing with Nancy Pelosi to advocate for a national sales tax on energy. That's not what we need right now in our economy. He was also the chief author of the individual health care mandate, and that's what is known as ObamaCare. No one wants to see that either. And also, he was taking $300,000 from Fannie [Mae] and Freddie [Mac] to influence Republicans to support Fannie and Freddy, which was the epicenter of the financial meltdown. Those are just a few of the differences. It's not being personal. This isn't being snotty to any of the other candidates. It's saying where with we stand on the issues, and the fact that there's real differences between the candidates.
HILL: Okay, but just a quick yes or no for you. You're not saying that it's a bad thing to work with people who may have a difference of opinion, especially when you're trying to do things to help the American people? Regardless of the issue, it's okay to have a discussion about different things and work across the aisle?
BACHMANN: Well, of course, it is, and I work with the other side as well. Right now, I'm working with other members of Congress, and we're coming together on a big project that's going to affect a couple of states. That's what we want to do, to be able to get something done, and I'm in the process of doing that myself. But that's a big difference, between working together to advance something good, versus working with Speaker Pelosi to put a brand-new national energy tax on all of the American people, which is going to make our country far less competitive, with cap and trade.
HILL: Let's talk a little bit about Iowa now. As we mentioned, the latest Bloomberg Iowa poll is out, showing basically a dead heat for Herman Cain, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, and Newt Gingrich. You're trailing at 5% there. There's also plenty of polling out that says- look, this can all change. Plenty of people have not made up their minds. You are trying to separate yourself, as you said, from other Republican candidates as the more conservative option. Are you concerned in some way, though- pardon me- you could isolate yourself from other Americans, especially if you do become the nominee, because you will need to appeal to a vast range of Americans, including many moderates, who are up for grabs as we know, and independents?
[CBS News Graphic: "Bloomberg/Selzer & Company Iowa Poll, Among Likely Republican Caucus-Goers: First Choice For President: Cain, 20%; Paul, 19%; Romney, 18%; Gingrich, 17%; Perry, 7%; Bachmann, 5%; Margin Of Error: +/- 4.4% Pts."]
BACHMANN: Not at all. This is an extremely fluid race. Quite a few of the polls say that 70% of the people are undecided. And here in Iowa, when the vote came, I was the one who won the straw poll in less time than any other candidate, and the only other woman ever to win the Iowa straw poll. So we're focused on January 3. But again, I came from a state like Minnesota. The first woman ever to win in Minnesota as a Republican woman, to go to Washington, and I did that by appealing to Democrats and independents and moderates, and I can do that because people see me as a straight-shooter. I say what I mean, I mean what I say, and I don't dance around. I'm not a politician. I'm a real person. That's what people are looking for.
HILL: Speaking of meaning what you say, you have a new memoir that's due out next week, and in it, you talk about President Bush. And at one point, you touch on the TARP program, saying that at this point, he and Secretary [Henry] Paulson had embraced kind of- quote, 'bail-out socialism.' Those are pretty strong words to use, especially the word 'socialism,' which, obviously, does not sit well with a number of conservatives.
[CBS News Graphic: "Race For 2012: Bachmann Sets Record Straight On Bush Criticism"]
BACHMANN: Well, I'm looking forward to the new book that's coming out next week. But, again, I've- this is a place where I am very different from the other candidates in this race, in that I stood up and I opposed the $700 billion bail-out, just like this summer, I opposed the supercommittee that is coming out now. This is- this will have very real differences, and what we're going to see is that almost a trillion dollars will be cut out of the defense budget, and we just had a letter come out from Defense Secretary [Leon] Panetta that said we will see our military at its lowest level of troops since 1940. After ten years, we'll have our lowest number of ships since 1914, and the lowest level of aircraft in our air force ever. And we will be at a tremendous disadvantage militarily, and a tremendous disadvantage economically. So I was right last summer when I said that we needed to not form the supercommittee, and instead, prioritize our spending last summer.
HILL: So you feel that the current spending, as we know, is wrong, and especially when it comes to defense. There's also been a lot of talk about troops. You know, there was an interesting exchange yesterday in this testimony about the decision to pull the troops out of Iraq- an exchange between Senator [John] McCain and Secretary Panetta. Senator McCain felt that more negotiating should have been done. Secretary- I'm having a tough time talking this morning. Excuse me, Congresswoman-
BACHMANN: It's all right-
HILL: Secretary Panetta saying, essentially, we're negotiating with a sovereign nation. You cannot tell them what to do. You cannot force them to allow American troops to remain there with some sort of immunity. Do you agree that everything was done that could have been done, especially after hearing from Defense Secretary Panetta?
BACHMANN: No, absolutely, it wasn't done. President Obama absolutely failed on this issue of Iraq. Don't forget, in the amount of time that we have been there, we have expended 4,400 lives to liberate Iraq as well, as $805 billion. Iraq will not be able to stand against Iranian influence, and already, we've seen an Iraqi general make his way to Iran to try and seek a peace. Iraq is not a poor country. They're a wealthy country, and I'm calling on President Obama to go back to the negotiating table. Iraq should pay us back the money that we spent to liberate them-
HILL: But can you force another country, though, to do what you want? Is that the best way for diplomacy?
BACHMANN: There's a lot that could have been done behind the scenes, and President Obama failed. President Obama wasn't in direct communication on a regular basis with the leadership in Iraq. It had been a long time since he had been in communication. He disadvantaged this situation. He took his eye off the main issue in the Middle East, which is a nuclear Iran. And now, we found out last week, in the IAEA report, that Iran very well could have everything that it needs to have a nuclear weapon. This is history-changing, and President Obama has failed us. And when it comes to Iraq, if you can consider what the United States has expended, at the least, the President should have gotten something. We got nothing out of this deal. President Obama completely failed. He had a war that was won, and he's determined to lose the peace. This is significant-
HILL: Congresswoman, we do have to leave-
BACHMANN: He should at least get back the trillion dollars they owe us.
HILL: I don't want the satellite to cut you off, so I'm going to have to do it instead. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, thanks for your time this morning.
BACHMANN: Thank you. Thanks, Erica. Good morning to you