WASHINGTON — Monday night’s tele-town hall with Michele Bachmann and Donald Trump was a generally cordial affair, with Bachmann praising Trump profusely and Trump calling her “a very strong woman” who’s working hard toward winning the presidency.
Bachmann officials say 200,000 people were on the hour and a half-long call, during which the candidate and Trump, a real estate mogul and reality television star and teased a potential presidential run this summer, assigned economic blame more often to China and OPEC than to Barack Obama.
“This will be the last presidential election in which the United States is the economic superpower of the world,” Bachmann warned after discussing the Chinese economy. “This is the last exit ramp for the United States.”
In terms of energy policy, Trump said he’s concerned Iran would look to move into Iraq after United States forces leave the country at the end of the year. He blamed OPEC for raising oil prices in order to diminish American economic recovery efforts.
When the topic turned to President Obama, the two hit the Obama health care law (“Obamacare, wait until that hits you, that’s going to be a real beauty for your business,” Trump told a small business owner from St. Paul), the Dodd-Frank financial regulations (“Mr. Trump has put his finger on the two biggest hot-button issue in this country for small business,” Bachmann said of Obamacare and Dodd-Frank), and the Solyndra controversy, which Trump said “had to be a political deal … frankly, it’s disgraceful.”
Trump told Fox News early Monday that the call was a “favor” to Bachmann instead of an endorsement of her campaign. Trump flirted with a presidential run over the summer and has continued to try and exert some influence over the race by meeting with several of the Republican candidates, including Bachmann. This was the first major event he’s done with any of the candidates.
In response to a question about Bachmann’s candidacy, Trump offered a level assessment of the campaign, saying, “I think when Gov. [Rick] Perry came in, he took some of her thunder … all she can do is do what she’s doing. She’s a very strong women … She can work really hard, she is getting some tremendous points across.”
Bachmann returned the compliment, saying “Mr. Trump,” as she admiringly called him throughout the call, is “recognized as one of our nation’s leaders for understanding the economy and job creation.”
The Bachmann campaign used the telephone format of the call to poll the audience on what they thought would best help jumpstart the economy. About 35 percent said they most supported cutting spending, while others supported repealing the Obama health care law, cutting taxes, increasing American energy production and enforcing standing immigration laws.
Bachmann also asked the audience to vote on which candidate they supported in the Republican nomination contest — Bachmann or someone else. Bachmann told the listening audience she would read off those results as they came in, but she never did.
Devin Henry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.