This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," September 12, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Now, the sparks were flying tonight in Florida, eight GOP presidential contenders all fighting for the chance to replace President Obama in 2012.
Tea Party favorite Representative Michele Bachmann had a lot to say. The Republican presidential contender and founder of the Tea Party Caucus joins us. Good evening, Congresswoman.
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN, R-MINN., GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's great to see you, Greta. Thanks for having me on tonight.
VAN SUSTEREN: Nice to have you here. All right, I want to (INAUDIBLE) some of the questions there wasn't enough time for you to have -- to have every question. So let me ask you this.
It has been suggested that President Obama and his secretary of defense are thinking of leaving 3,000 troops in Iraq at the end of the year. And I'm curious, have you been asked that question tonight? What would have been your answer? What would you do about it? Senator Lindsey Graham and Senator John McCain says the 3,000 would be like sitting ducks and they think Iran would move in. Others have a different idea, say we should get completely out. What would you do?
BACHMANN: Well, I think it's very clear the Pentagon has said that they need to have at least 15,000 to 17,000 troops in order to maintain the peace in Iraq. We paid a very heavy price in terms of American treasure and American blood, and to pull out and to allow Iraq to follow to the Iranians -- there were some reports that the Iranians were rejoicing when they had heard this news from the administration that they wanted to reduce the number of troops down to 3,000 to 4,000 by the end of the year.
We do not want the Iranians to move in and take over 10 years worth of advances in securing the peace. We need to be very smart about this, very wise about this. And if the commanders on the ground believe that they need to have 15,000 to 17,000 troops, I think we need to listen to them.
And quite honestly, as commander-in-chief, Greta, I'd have a very short conversation because I would invite in General John Allen and I'd ask him, General, what do you need to maintain the peace? And I would listen to him very carefully and I'd make sure that he was fully resourced with what he needed to get the job done.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, there was an exchange with you and Governor Perry tonight, and it was the question about the executive order and the vaccine that -- the executive order that he signed, now regrets, but said that 11 and 12-year-old girls would have this vaccine. You could opt out. But the discussion was sort of from a Tea Party perspective on whether -- whether it should have been signed in the first place.
But the thing that struck me was when you mentioned that one of his former staff members was now working with the drug company and he got about a $6,000 contribution to his campaign. Now, he says he'd charge -- he would charge more than $6,000. He was sort of flip. But tell me more about this because that's the kind of crony capitalism I -- you know, that I think, you know, is worth exploring.
BACHMANN: Well, this is what people hate about politics, when you have someone in a position of power, whether it's state government or the federal government, and they have political donors, and then they use their position of power to benefit those political donors.
Remember again what this is. This is a unilateral action that the governor of Texas took. He didn't need the house. He didn't need his senate. He did it on his own. And so what he did is he mandated, through an executive order that he issued, that all little innocent 11 or 12-year- old girls in the state of Texas would be required to have a vaccine that's potentially dangerous, that many, many organizations warned against.
And again, this is -- he mentioned the drug company. It's the Merck drug company. And the governor's former chief of staff is chief lobbyist for this big drug company -- and mandated, again, that every girl would have to have this particular drug.
And the problem is, it comes with some very significant consequences. There's a woman who came up crying to me tonight after the debate. She said her daughter was given that vaccine. She told me her daughter suffered mental retardation as a result of that vaccine. There are very dangerous consequences. It's not good enough to take, quote, "a mulligan" where you want a do-over, not when you have little children's lives at risk.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, there's a big difference, though, at least in my mind, whether you do it because you really believe it's the right and you're just flat out wrong or you shouldn't have done it or whatever, and the other difference is whether you did it because you wanted a campaign contribution. And I'm curious which you think was the one here with the governor.
BACHMANN: Well, of course, I don't know the thoughts and the intents of the governor's heart. I have no idea what they are, nor would I speculate. But I think it's important to point out that this donor, like so many other of the governor's donors, received appointments, received political favors.
And I think that we're going to hear a lot more about that in the course of the campaign because this is what the American people don't want. They don't want crony capitalism. It infuriates them. We saw that with President Obama, when we saw over $500 million dollars go to Solyndra, who was a political donor of President Obama. It's no better when Republicans engage in that, as well. People don't want crony capitalism.
VAN SUSTEREN: Congresswoman, thank you very much, and hope to see you soon. Thank you, Congresswoman.
BACHMANN: We'll do it again soon. Thanks again, Greta.