Many Minnesotans probably didn’t see it — the Twin were playing, after all — but Rep. Michele Bachmann got some serious air time last night with Larry King on national television.
She appeared with James Carville, CNN political contributor and Democratic strategist; Ari Fleischer, who served as press secretary for President George W. Bush; and Hill Harper, the star of “CSI New York” and a longtime friend and political supporter of President Obama.
The transcript is here.
The most contentious issue was a back-and-forth between Carville and Bachmann on the birther issue — the stated belief of some that President Obama wasn’t born in the United States.
KING: Congresswoman Bachmann, would you agree with what Senator Graham just said?
[It was a video clip:
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: The people who are doing unfair and unkind things to the president, it says more about them than it does the Republican Party.
But here’s what the Republican Party has to do. Now this is, I think, a good point. We have to say, that’s crazy. So I’m here to tell you that those who think the president was born somewhere other than Hawaii are crazy. He’s not a Muslim. He’s a good man. And let’s knock this crap off and talk about the real differences we have.]
BACHMANN: You know, it’s so interesting, this whole birther issue hasn’t even been one that’s ever been brought up to me by my constituents. They continue to ask me, Larry, where are the jobs?
That’s what they want to know, where are the jobs?
KING: All right. But we — the question was, therefore, do you agree with what Senator Graham just said?
BACHMANN: That’s a non-issue. In my district, it’s a flat out non-issue.
[After a commercial:]
CARVILLE: Well, first of all, there are seven Republicans in the House that have birther legislation before there. And one of the things that people don’t like is that politicians get a simple yes or no question and they try to evade it, just like I heard Cong — the Congresswoman do. She’s known to be very outspoken…
BACHMANN: Oh, not at all. I answered.
CARVILLE: I can’t believe that she doesn’t have the courage just to give us a simple yes or no answer — do you believe that these birthers are plum crazy, because that’s what Senator Graham was saying?
And it’s a simple question — do you believe that they’re crazy or not?
And then later:
CARVILLE: …I can’t believe that Congressman Bachmann…couldn’t answer a yes or no question.
BACHMANN: I answered the question.
CARVILLE: You see — are they crazy or not?
BACHMANN: And I answered it very clearly.
CARVILLE: No, you didn’t.
BACHMANN: What I — what I said…
CARVILLE: Are they nutty or not?
BACHMANN: The people in my district want to know where are the jobs?
That’s what I hear over and over…
CARVILLE: Again — again, let me ask you…
BACHMANN: …meeting after meeting…
KING: I understand that…
KING: Hold it, hold it, hold it.
BACHMANN: No one is bringing this issue up and…
KING: Congresswoman, I am — Congresswoman, the only thing was the question was simple — do you believe the birthers?
Forget the district, forget the jobs for a moment.
Do you believe President Obama was born in the United States?
BACHMANN: I have no reason to doubt that he wasn’t born in the United States. I have none. The only place that this issue comes up is on the left. You don’t hear people on the right bringing this issue up. Honest…
KING: Then where did it start?
BACHMANN: In Minnesota, the only thing people are interested in are where are the jobs?
KING: Do you think the left started it?
BACHMANN: I don’t know. I have no idea.
KING: OK. Go ahead.
BACHMANN: It’s a non-issue. The jobs are the issue.
HARPER: Let’s hold on something that …
KING: All right. So, therefore, you don’t believe it, right?
BACHMANN: I don’t believe that — you mean where President Obama was born?
KING: That he was born somewhere else.
BACHMANN: The president has shown his birth certificate …
KING: You don’t — you don’t believe he was born.
BACHMANN: The president has shown his birth certificate.
BACHMANN: The real issue is jobs.
Earlier, they’d talked about talk radio shows:
BACHMANN: Larry, if I could just add, the shows that have had the greatest ratings increases in recent time have been Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity. People go where they think they’re going to hear the truth. And that’s why they’re going to those shows.
KING: But — but, Congresswoman, as Ari points out, they’re talking about 1 percent of the population. They had no effect on the election. And to the — wouldn’t — wouldn’t you, as a Republican, would you want them to be the voice of the Republican Party?
BACHMANN: Well, still, it’s their ratings that are going up. And I think you have to look at the reality of ratings…
KING: No, forget that.
Would you want them…
BACHMANN: And those are the ratings that are going up.
KING: Would you want the Limbaugh — would you want — would you want the Limbaugh, that crowd, to call it — would you want them to be your voice as the Republican Party stands in this country?
BACHMANN: Well, remember, it’s who the American people are referring to, Larry. And the American people are looking to voices like Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levine, Glenn Beck.
KING: I just told you, but it’s 2 percent of America.
BACHMANN: Well, but again…
KING: It’s 2 percent.
BACHMANN: If you look for a critical mass, that’s the movement, that’s the direction that the critical mass is going.
They also talked about Afghanistan and health care.