This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," January 21, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Tonight: Are you suspicious? Well, you should be. She's in Iowa! Congresswoman Michele Bachmann joins us live from Des Moines, Iowa. Good evening, Congresswoman.
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN, R-MINN.: Good evening, Greta. It's a great, snowy, cold night here in Des Moines.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I know you're used to it because not only do you hail from the state of Minnesota, you a native of Iowa, is that right?
BACHMANN: That's right. I'm actually a 7th generation Iowan. My family dates back to 1857 from Iowa. And I was born in Waterloo, Iowa. So today was a great homecoming today, Greta!
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, they expected you. And I've looked at The Des Moines Register and all the newspapers, and there's an awful lot of chatter about why Congresswoman Michele Bachmann has come home. I know that -- I should -- I refer to it as the cover story, and I know that you're not going to call it the cover story. But tell me why you're there, and then I'll ask you the questions we all want to know.
BACHMANN: Well, I'm here because I want to lay out the very important issues that I think Iowans will be grappling with for the next 24 months. We're focused now on the 2012 election. This is a very important election if we actually want to repeal "Obamacare." We repealed "Obamacare" in the House of Representatives this week, but in order to be able to get rid of it, we have to be able to have a different president and a different United States Senate.
So I wanted to come and set the table, so to speak, on the big issues that Iowans will be facing because Iowa is so crucial, as you know. Iowa is, in effect, the first precinct in this national debate. And so as a former Iowan, I wanted to come out and lay out and frame the big issues that we'll be grappling with for the next 24 months.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, so another way to say it, you're also testing the waters. Is that not fair to say?
BACHMANN: Well, I didn't come down here this time for personal ambition. I really came because so much is at stake in 2012. Of course, people will be speculating about who our nominee will be. That's only natural. But I think for the next 12 months, it's very important that we not forget that the main thing is the main thing. And we have to address this issue of dealing with deep debt, with excessive spending, and also with getting rid of this government takeover of one private industry after another.
So in the midst of talking about who our nominee is -- because I think 12 months from now that name will bubble up to the surface, whoever that person is. In the midst of that, we can't forget why we need to replace President Obama. And that's what I'm trying to do here, is lay the table and frame the big issues.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, would you like to be the one to replace President Obama?
BACHMANN: Well, that's not why I'm here. I'm here to talk about the issues.
VAN SUSTEREN: No, I know!
BACHMANN: I really trust...
VAN SUSTEREN: I understand -- I understand you're in Iowa to talk about the issues. But I'm curious, would you like to replace President Obama?
BACHMANN: Yes, I would like to see him replaced. And we'll -- Iowans will decide who that person will be to replace him. I trust them. They're wonderful people, and I trust their good judgment.
VAN SUSTEREN: How about the Tea Party movement in Iowa? You're head of the Tea Party Caucus, or at least you started it here in the United States Congress. Have you met with any Tea Party movement people? And how extensive is the movement in Iowa?
BACHMANN: It's a very extensive movement. As you know, they were very successful this year. They ousted three members of the supreme court. That was almost unheard of, what they were able to accomplish. And the Tea Party was very much a part of flipping the House of Representatives in Iowa. They helped enormously in electing a Republican as their new governor in Terry Branstad. And the Tea Party has a very strong voice.
Iowa is a caucus state, just as Minnesota is, Greta. And that means that this is a state where the people's voice counts even more. It's a grass roots, bottom-up state, and they have an enormous, awesome responsibility. They'll decide, for instance, if we remain the indispensable nation, if we remain the exceptional nation. This is on their shoulders. I know they're up to it, but they have an enormous amount of influence, the grass roots here in Iowa.
VAN SUSTEREN: I noticed that your PAC has spent about $31,000 for -- on candidates in Iowa. I'm curious, the other states in the union -- have you spent $31,000 or more in any of the other states?
BACHMANN: I've spent money all across the United States because I believe that all of our chips are on...
VAN SUSTEREN: How about $31,000?
BACHMANN: ... the line in the 2010 -- you know, I don't know off the top of my head. I don't know if I spent that much in any other state or not. We can find out and put it up on my FaceBook site. But I did spend money all across the country with candidates, probably I would say in excess of 40 candidates for Congress that I weighed in on, that actually were successful and won this time, because I wanted to make sure that the House of Representatives went into conservative hands. And so we were very successful with that.
And important states like Iowa will make that decision about who our nominee will be. And I want to make sure that we choose as our candidate a strong, courageous, constitutional conservative. And that's why states like Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina -- they're very important because they'll choose what our nominee will be, who they'll be and what issues will be the issues that will be a part of the 2012 campaign.
VAN SUSTEREN: In terms of the people that you've come in contact with today, have you heard any of them say, for instance -- (INAUDIBLE) a few things. Number, have they said, I'm a Democrat or I voted Democrat, this time I'm going Republican? That's one thing. Another one -- has there been any encouragement to you that you should run for president?
BACHMANN: Yes, I've heard both. I've met with people who were Democrats who did vote Republican this last time, independents that voted Republican this time. And I had a lot of encouragement for myself. But again, the focus wasn't on me. The focus was on the big issues that were here, and also the fact that we can't sit this out. We have to start engaging now because the issues are that important going forward.
We're really going to have a very small window of opportunity. If we want to repeal "Obamacare," it will have to happen in the 2012 election. And so for the next 12 months, we have to focus on those issues that will be the central issues for 2012. And thank goodness, the people here in Iowa are engaged and they're ready to go because they also agree that "Obamacare" must be repealed and the spending has to stop.
VAN SUSTEREN: What should we, meaning the American people, think when we see people like Congresswoman Bachmann or Speaker Gingrich or former governor Mitt Romney or Governor Mike Huckabee -- when I see all -- when we see all of you going to Iowa, shouldn't we -- isn't it sort of -- aren't we rightful in being sort of curious or suspicious that there are ambitions for the White House?
BACHMANN: Well, sure. I think, of course, we want to know why people are here, and I'm telling you and your viewers right now why I'm here. I actually grew up a Democrat. I became a Republican when I was in college. And one thing that I know is that Iowans are reasonable, fair-minded people. And if you just give them the evidence and talk to them, people can be persuaded. It isn't too early to start now to talk to people about the very important issues that are affecting our country. We need to start talking now. We can't wait until 2012. It will be too late.
So we have to talk to people about why "Obamacare" is going to sink our country, why this debt is going to mean a lower standard of living for our kids, and why we have to start now in getting ready for that next election because just having the House of Representatives in conservative hands, while it's a very good first step, we need to focus on retaking the Senate and on the White House in 2012, as well. Otherwise, we'll continue to go down this road of spending money that we don't have, and also having the government take over yet more private industries and the health care system.
That won't be good for anyone because as we've already seen in health care, Greta, premiums are going up 25 percent, 45 percent. So "Obamacare" means spending more but getting less. That's not a good deal for anyone.
VAN SUSTEREN: Congresswoman, I hope that you don't think we pushing, inquiring about why you're in Iowa -- I hope that -- I mean, you know, I think people are curious because the races are exciting, you know, and I don't think there's anything wrong with being in Iowa and candidates throwing their hats in the ring. We're just -- you know, we're just so curious as to -- you know, because there's got to be some way to distinguish different people because, you know, many Republicans have the same ideology. And so you begin very early on trying to think, like, How is one different from another one? Why this one instead of another one, or -- in either party. So that's why it -- sort of -- you know, I kept coming back to you and saying, you know, Why are you there?
VAN SUSTEREN: And I understand you're focused on the big picture, but we're enormously curious.
BACHMANN: What was the last part, Greta?
VAN SUSTEREN: I said that we're just enormously curious. I mean, you know, to what extent -- let me -- let me ask this...