Michele Bachmann on ‘Larry King’: Lively exchanges on birthers and talk radio

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.

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Comments (4)

  1. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 10/07/2009 - 11:07 am.

    This was, without doubt, one of the best media appearances Rep. Bachmann has ever made.

    Michele not only came across as thoughtful, reasoned and unflappable, she skillfully paid out plenty of rope for King and Carville to hang themselves with…and they did not disappoint.

    The audience was left with a clear picture of a pair of leftist mouthpieces sputtering and stammering to make their loony Democrat talking points appear substantive while Rep. Bachmann tried to reason them down off the ledge.

    On the clip King played, Sen. Graham said “Let’s knock this crap off and talk about the real differences.”…and Rep. Bachmann calmly showed that is what she wants to do while James Carville came across as a kool-aid gargling nut.

    Even the actor got it right!

    And kudos to Ari as well…this exchange will have millions of viewers spurting coffee out of their noses today

    Fleischer: “For every lulu on the right, there are 1.8 on the left.”

    Carville: “And I was one!”

    Yes, James. You still are.

    People that were tuned into the Twins game saw some good baseball, but those of us watching CNN last night saw an out of the park grand slam.

  2. Submitted by Grace McGarvie on 10/07/2009 - 12:53 pm.

    Thom never noticed that Michelle never answered the question.

    “Distortion only serves to derail it for a time. No matter to what lengths we humans may go to obfuscate facts or delude our fellows, truth has a way of squeezing out through the cracks, eventually. But the danger is that at some point it may no longer matter. The danger is that damage is done before the truth is widely realized. The reality is that, sometimes, it is easier to ignore uncomfortable facts and go along with whatever distortion is currently in vogue. We see a lot of this today in politics. I see a lot of it – more than I would ever have believed – right on this Senate Floor.” Sen. Robert Byrd

    “Ideologies are of course just systematic ways of misunderstanding the world. They are the province of herd thinkers, people who have the answer before they’ve heard the question, and they always have the same answer. The more ardently liberal or conservative they are, the worse they are. Serious ones get bitter and start lying without even knowing it, mostly to themselves.” Fred Reed

  3. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 10/07/2009 - 04:04 pm.

    Grace, perhaps you missed this:

    “The President has shown his birth certificate.”

    “I have no reason to doubt that he wasn’t born in the United States. I have none.”

    How much more clear could the Rep. have been?

  4. Submitted by Grace McGarvie on 10/09/2009 - 10:39 am.

    Yes or no would have been a cleareranswer to “Do you believe President Obama was born in the United States?”. Michele never seems to need or use reasoning, so her answer was not clear.

    Secondly she never answered the other question “Would you want the Limbaugh — … to be your voice as the Republican Party stands in this country?” 2% is not a critical mass.

    The woman is a master obfuscater, just like you Thom.

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