WASHINGTON, D.C. — Rep. Michele Bachmann, one of the GOP’s most outspoken Republicans with a penchant for making extreme claims, toned down the rhetoric today during an annual gathering of conservative political activists in Washington, D.C.
The event, known as the Values Voter Summit, which is an annual conference that brings together members of the GOP’s conservative Christian base, took place in the wake of reports that members of Republican leadership in Congress are struggling to moderate the party’s language.
While Bachmann touched on several hot-button issues for Republicans, such as funding for ACORN and the Democrat-led health care reform legislation, she seemed to steer clear of making any headline-grabbing statements. Gone, for instance, were the rallying cries to make a covenant and slit our wrists or to rip the guts out of freedom.
Instead, Bachmann kept her message fairly simple and short, and for those who were waiting to hear something sensational, slightly boring.
“It is really insulting when we hear that Republicans don’t have positive solutions,” Bachmann told the crowd on the topic of health care. “We have all sorts of positive solutions.”
Bachmann then highlighted a few measures in the Republican alternative to the Democrats’ health care reform bills, such as doing away with geographic limitations on health insurance options and not including a government-run public option.
“You [would] own your health care just like you own car insurance or home insurance,” Bachmann said.
Questions from audience
Bachman appeared on a panel with Republican Reps. Tom Price of Georgia and Chris Smith of New Jersey. The three answered questions from the audience on health care in a town hall-type format.
One audience member asked the panel about medical malpractice reform.
Bachmann referred to President Obama’s speech earlier this month to a joint session of Congress. In that speech, Obama acknowledged that “defensive medicine may be contributing to unnecessary costs.”
Obama proposed authorizing demonstration projects in individual states to test different ideas of reforming medical malpractice laws.
But Obama did not go far enough, said Bachmann, who called the malpractice reform “an issue whose time has come.”
“The proof is in the legislation. The president made no mention that he would actually include tort reform in the legislation,” said Bachmann.
Later, an audience member asked whether the U.S. Constitution originally intended government involvement in health care.
(Bachmann has previously claimed that the Democratic health care bills before Congress are unconstitutional. Check out MinnPost’s fact check of that claim here.)
In her response to the question, Bachmann did not go as far as she has in previous statements. She said that the constitution does not include instructions for running health care, which is true.
“The government has come so far in instructing on health care,” Bachmann added. “What we want to do is try to change that model so that you own more of your health care [and] you own more of your choices.”
Bachmann then touched on the erosion of the private sector and the expansion of government bureaucracy.
In one of the last questions of the event, a woman stated to the hundreds of people in the room that she was ashamed to admit that she had had three abortions throughout her life.
Without missing a beat, in what could have been an awkwardly personal moment, Bachmann responded thusly:
“You are so beautiful… there is forgiveness. There is a way forward. Thank you for sharing your story.”
Cynthia Dizikes covers Minnesota’s congressional delegation and reports on issues and developments in Washington, D.C. She can be reached at cdizikes[at]minnpost[dot]com.