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After Lull, Bachmann Back with Fiery Talk

Rep. rips health law, avoids CNN reporter


U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., gestures March 15, 2013 as she speaks at the 40th annual Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md. (Photo credit: Jacquelyn Martin / AP)

By Larry Bivins
Times Washington correspondent
St. Cloud Times
March 24, 2013

Excerpts from the article, annotated with links, sidebars, and video

WASHINGTON — A week that began with media coverage suggesting U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann had become a kinder, gentler politician in the aftermath of her narrow re-election victory ended with the firebrand conservative lobbing a grenade at President Barack Obama’s health care law.

Spliced in between were postings by The Washington Post’s Fact Checker blog branding two recent Bachmann statements as “whoppers;” a news clip of the congresswoman speedwalking away from a CNN reporter who was trying to ask her about the assertions; and yet another Bachmann Democrats-are-out-to-get-me online plea for money.

After having been out of the national spotlight since starting her fourth congressional term in January, Bachmann has re-emerged with a bang.

Bachmann, who has been one of the Affordable Care Act’s harshest critics, went viral with her latest attack Thursday.

Speaking on the floor of the House of Representatives, Bachmann urged her colleagues to “repeal this failure before it literally kills women, kills children, kills senior citizens.”

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee pounced on the statement in a news release headlined “Bachmann’s Back.” …

Bachmann declined a request for an interview for this story.

The week started quietly …

The week started on what could be considered a good note for Bachmann, a 2012 candidate for the GOP presidential nomination. On Monday, a National Journal story asked “What happened to Michele Bachmann?” in an article saying the congresswoman had suddenly gone silent. …

On the same day, Roll Call ran a story saying Bachmann had departed the national stage to spend more time in her district. The story said she also was undergoing a political makeover. …

Both stories quoted Bachmann allies saying the woman who burst onto the national scene after organizing an anti-health care law tea party rally in the fall of 2011 was keeping a low profile.

A whopper?

Yet, also on Monday, Washington Post Fact Checker posted a blog item debunking a statement Bachmann made the day before during a speech at an annual gathering of conservative activists.

The blogger gave Bachmann four Pinocchios, the maximum, for her claim that the president was living a lavish $1.4 billion-a-year lifestyle at taxpayer expense that includes five chefs on Air Force One and a dog-walker at the White House.

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SIDEBAR: The Washington Post’s Fact Checker

Bachmann’s claim that Barack Obama has a ‘$1.4 billion-a-year presidency’ of ‘perks and exceses’

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Fact Checker concluded Bachmann’s claim was misleading, as “the money spent on the presidency and the so-called perks she describes appear to be no different for Obama than for (George W.) Bush or other presidents.”

On Tuesday, The Fact Checker slapped four Pinocchios on a Bachmann statement made during the same speech before the Conservative Political Action Conference. Bachmann told the audience 70 cents of every federal dollar for the poor goes to bureaucrats.

“So $3 in food stamps for the needy,” she said, “$7 in salaries and pensions for the bureaucrats who are supposed to be taking care of the poor.”

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SIDEBAR: The Washington Post’s Fact Checker

Bachmann’s claim that 70 percent of food stamps go to ‘bureaucrats’

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When a CNN reporter confronted Bachmann at the Capitol on Tuesday about the claims, the congresswoman became testy and snapped that the thrust of her speech was about the Obama administration’s handling of the attack on the U.S. consulate at Benghazi in Libya, not dog walkers. She then sped off with the reporter unable to keep up. …


Bachmann dodges questions on White House claims (CNN “Anderson Cooper 360,” March 20, 2013) – Dana Bash runs after Michele Bachmann to ask her about some false claims she made about Pres. Obama’s “lavish” lifestyle. (02:55)

‘Same conservative firebrand’

While granting some credibility to reports Bachmann was focusing more attention on her district and trying to recast herself as a compassionate conservative, University of Minnesota political expert Larry Jacobs said the congresswoman at core “pretty much remains the same conservative firebrand that she has been.”

Jacobs said Bachmann has been more visible in her redrawn 6th Congressional District after having been “essentially missing in action for much of 2012.”

Bachmann was on the presidential campaign trail and for a moment enjoyed frontrunner status, winning the Iowa straw poll in August before dropping out five months later after a disappointing sixth-place finish in the Iowa caucuses. …

Bachmann focusing on 6th District

Though Bachmann would not grant an interview, spokesman Dan Kotman provided a statement acknowledging she has been “actively crisscrossing Central Minnesota focusing her time and energy on serving her constituents and holding listening sessions with community leaders in every county in the 6th District.”

While Jacobs and others see Bachmann’s increased time in her district as an attempt to atone for being away so much during her White House run, some supporters view it as the congresswoman simply resettling into a personable grassroots style that propelled her political career from the start.

“My sense is she’s kind of come back to her roots,” said Minnesota GOP consultant Ben Golnik, who was the state party executive director during Bachmann’s inaugural congressional run in 2006. “She’s doing what she’s always done.”

Fundraising

And one of the things she’s always done is turn negative publicity into a fundraising opportunity. That was what she did Wednesday in an online solicitation citing a Roll Call story saying the DCCC has her “on the top of their list for defeat.”

“And, in addition to working overtime to defeat our campaign, they have willing accomplices in the liberal media to continue their dirty work,” the Dear Fellow Conservative letter said.

Bachmann, a prodigious fundraiser, hauled in $14.9 million for her 2012 congressional race, spent $11.9 million and had more than $2 million in the bank at the start of the new campaign cycle in January. …

Full story

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Related report

Is Senate run in Michele Bachmann’s future? Representative touts time she is spending with constituents (Mark Sommerhauser, St. Cloud Times, March 17, 2013)

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Related interest

Michele Bachmann’s Political Résumé

Michele Bachmann’s March of Folly (2009-2010)

Michele Bachmann Up-Close (2010-2011)

Rep. Michele Bachmann’s Campaign for President (2011-2012)

Rep. Michele Bachmann’s Reelection Campaign for Congress (2012)

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