This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," December 21, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
MONICA CROWLEY, GUEST HOST: Tonight, there is major news out of Iowa as a brand-new poll shows that the former speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, has slipped to third place.
Good evening, everybody. I'm Monica Crowley in tonight for Sean.
The survey comes to us from Rasmussen Reports and has Mitt Romney in first place in Iowa with 25 percent of the vote, Ron Paul in second with 20 percent and Newt Gingrich down to third with 17 percent. Followed by Rick Perry, Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann.
In a moment, I will be joined live from the Hawkeye State by Congresswoman Bachmann, and over the past 24 hours reports have circulated that she was asked to bow out of the race by an influential evangelical leader in Iowa by the name of Bob Vander Plaats who announced to support for Rick Santorum's campaign just yesterday.
Joining me now to respond to that story and more is Minnesota congresswoman and presidential candidate, Michele Bachmann.
Always great to see you, Congresswoman.
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good to see you, Monica. It's great to be with you tonight.
CROWLEY: Well, likewise. All right, so let's start with Iowa. We're less than two weeks away, and this is a state where you are a favorite daughter. You were born there. You also won the Ames straw poll back in August. You’re now in the process of visiting all 99 counties. But the most recent polling as we saw has you with support of just between 7 and 10 percent.
So what do you need to do between now and January 3rd to either win, place or show there?
BACHMANN: Well, the polls are all over the place. Another poll came out today that has me at 15 percent. So it really is a wild fluctuation. And what we're seeing on the ground is absolutely amazing. We had our last debate in Sioux City, it was a Fox debate and it was a fantastic debate.
And after that debate, Monica, it's like a light switch went off in Iowa. We started our 99-county tour, we're more than 50 counties into this tour now and people are electric. They’ve made a big change now. We've had over 1500 new supporters come on board just in the last couple of days. People are making their decisions and they’re seeing that I am the one true proven, tested conservative in this race.
A lot of people are coming back to their first love, the person that they supported in the -- in the straw poll. We think a lot of people are going to be very surprised on January 3rd.
CROWLEY: Well, I know you would like to win Iowa, but barring that, what would you consider a good outcome?
BACHMANN: Well, I think we’re going to show very well. Again, 50 percent of the people in Iowa are still undecided. And we're seeing that when we go to the counties, we're the only one doing a 99-county tour. When we go to the counties, people are making up their minds and they are choosing me. It's overwhelming. So we’re extremely excited, a lot of energy on the ground. And Iowa is a person-to-person state. So we are thrilled with the response.
CROWLEY: Let me ask you about this very odd story, this prominent Iowa conservative, Bob Vander Plaats, who apparently is very influential among the evangelical crowd in Iowa, apparently called to ask you to drop out of the race and back Rick Santorum, whom he's now backing. What was that about?
BACHMANN: Well, it's odd because there has never been a time when I have been below Rick Santorum in the polls, and so it's odd to ask me to drop out. And after all, I am the one that won the straw poll.
We have enormous response across the state. Of all of the candidates I have the strongest support among the evangelical community. I have the former Family Leader Council head who's for me, the head of Concerned Women for America here in Iowa that's for me, over 100 pastors, evangelical pastors had come out for me.
And last week, the pastors within on a big caravan tour all across Iowa. So I have very solid evangelical support. And we anticipate that that will also help quite a bit on January 3rd. As a matter of fact, I'm at Knoll Ridge Park Church in Cedar Rapids. I'm giving my testimony tonight.
I came to know Jesus Christ when I was 16. I'll be giving my testimony. And I'm excited to have the support from pastors across Iowa.
CROWLEY: You know it struck me as so odd when I heard about this story, Congresswoman. And I wonder why didn't he -- why did he single you out? Why didn't he ask one of the men to drop out?
BACHMANN: Well, good question. I guess you'd have to ask him why that was. But, again, I think when you look at viability and electability; I am the one most likely to be elected to defeat Barack Obama as a Republican nominee. If you look, for instance, at the debates last Friday -- or last Thursday night, I took on Ron Paul. And in that debate, it was very clear that Ron Paul would make a very dangerous president because of his foreign policy.
And I think we need to have a candidate who can go toe-to-toe with Barack Obama. I have proved that, that can I do that, whether it's on foreign policy or on economic policy. I’m able to do that because of my background on the intelligence committee and my background as a federal tax lawyer and as someone who started a successful company.
I know exactly what the economy needs now with job creation. And I have proven that what I did with Ron Paul on the debate, I will do with Barack Obama on the stage. And I will defeat him and then we'll finally get the country back on the right track.
CROWLEY: And God knows we need that sooner rather than later. You mentioned President Obama. And there was a poll released this week by USA Today and Gallup and it showed, Congresswoman, that more Americans more than ever in recent times are dissatisfied with their political leadership and very concerned about the direction of the country.
How do you then take that dissatisfaction and turn it into a positive, both for your campaign and for the country?
BACHMANN: Well, I think that's simple. And it's also a great question. If you look at 1980, that's when the world needed top leadership. We had that in Ronald Reagan. We needed someone who wasn't a moderate to go against Jimmy Carter. We needed a bold, distinctive conservative.
Everyone said Ronald Reagan was too conservative. He was exactly what we needed. Also across the world, we had a Margaret Thatcher, ‘The Iron Lady,’ who also brought about conservative policies and helped to turn around England's economy.
I think we need an American -- Margaret Thatcher, an American iron lady. And I am presenting myself as that candidate to be a very strong, resolute woman who will stand up for our country. I know exactly what needs to be done. And I will do it. I will repeal Obamacare. I will repeal Dodd/Frank. I will abolish the tax code and put in place a pro-growth tax code.
As a former tax lawyer, I know exactly what to do with that. And I am looking forward to being America's next, hopefully, Margaret Thatcher.
CROWLEY: There are a lot of negative ads floating around. We've got Newt hitting Mitt and Mitt hitting Newt, Ron Paul hitting everybody, apparently. You have really focused on running a very positive campaign and you've been very strong in the debates. You have hit Romney, you have hit Gingrich, and others on policy. But your whole campaign has had a very positive note to it.
Given the fact that negative campaigning really does work, and we’re seeing it now in Newt Gingrich's numbers starting to slide a bit because he's getting hit, do you regret staying positive and not going negative?
BACHMANN: You know, I think, again, the best way to campaign in Iowa is person to person. We’re working extremely hard. We’re hitting 10 different counties every single day. That's very ambitious. I got up at 4:45 this morning. And I’ll be going until 11:00 at night because we have a positive message to take to Iowans.
And they want to have a president who’s going to stand up for them. And I am an Iowan. We need a lot more of an Iowa voice in the White House than a Washington, D.C. insider. I am not a Washington, D.C. inside establishment politician. And I never want to be.
I'm a real person who's lived a real life and that's what I want to take to the White House. Those voices of people here in Iowa, the people who've poured their love and heart into me, I want to take a real-people voice to the White House. And that's what I will do.
CROWLEY: Congresswoman, best of luck to you. We'll be watching. Merry Christmas to you and your family.
BACHMANN: Merry Christmas to you and all the viewers on "Hannity" show. Thank you.
CROWLEY: Thank you, Congresswoman.