• With: Charles Krauthammer, Steve Hayes, Dan Balz

    BAIER: And we're back with our panel and special "Center Seat" guest Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. This round we'll start with Charles.

    KRAUTHAMMER: Congresswoman, when "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was repealed and we had a long debate about it, one of the arguments of those who wanted to keep it intact was you don't want to change the culture of the military in the middle of a shooting war. If you won the presidency you would be inaugurated in January of 2013, the abolition of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" would already have been in place for almost a year-and-a-half. So reinstating it would mean a change again in culture of the military. Would you abolish it? Would you reinstate "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" if you were elected president?

    BACHMANN: I would reinstate it because the military is not a social experiment. It is a very serious duty of the United States government. We need to maintain order and decorum in the United States military. There was disagreement on this policy and I would reinstate it.

    KRAUTHAMMER: But what if it were shown in the ensuing 18 months between now and then that there was no disruption of decorum and order?

    BACHMANN: Well, of course we'd have to take that into consideration, but if you're asking me today what I would do, I would reinstate it. But, ya know, that's another day.

    BAIER: Dan?

    BALZ: I'd like to turn to Afghanistan if we could. Two questions. One is, how would you define a successful mission in Afghanistan at this point? And then secondly, what do you think of the Obama timetable for the drawdown of troops?

    BACHMANN: Well, I think I'd have to go back just a little bit in time. Because had President Obama been willing to give General Petraeus his original order of the resources that he requested, when he did, we may well have seen a better ending at this point, because again, the effort was to have a two-prong war, one in the southern province in Helmand and then one in the eastern province and fight them both at the same time.

    Because the president chose to delay and chose to give a reduction in the number of troops we could only go to the south. And we are having problems there. There is no question that we are.

    And so the other problem that we have, quite frankly, is Pakistan, the proxy wars that Pakistan continues to fight in Afghanistan. There are problems there. They need to be addressed. But I have a great confidence in General Allen. And what I would do as commander-in-chief is have a short conversation, invite both of the gentlemen in, even though General Petraeus is now at the CIA, and ask them for their advice. What can we do? Can we end this? How quickly, what do you need to have it done?

    BALZ: At this point do you think the president's timetable for drawing down troops is too fast? Would you accelerate it? Would you slow it down? How would you handle that?

    BACHMANN: I think it is too fast. I think that's -- some of the back channels that we're hearing. But again, I want to know from the real people who are involved on the ground what they are seeing. I think that right now we don't see the stability. We don't see it in the Karzai government. We just aren't seeing that level of stability. It's a volatile situation.

    But again, Afghanistan does not stand alone. Pakistan is playing out proxy wars. And of course, they're worried about the influence of India, once the United States pulls out. This is not a good situation. I wish it was better than what it was, but it isn't. And so, it's going tol take some more attention to detail. It's not a glib answer on Afghanistan.

    BAIER: Steve?

    HAYES: Congresswoman, I'd like to shift to politics here, and ask you about some comments you made recently about the Republican field.

    BAIER: Take a listen.


    BACHMANN: Why would we settle? Why would we settle on a moderate? Why would we settle on someone who is not clear on the issue of life, on the issue of religious liberty, on the issue of marriage between a man and a woman?


    HAYES: Who were you talking about?

    BACHMANN: Well, there are candidates in the race that aren't clear on those issues. And I think of all years, Republicans shouldn't settle on the nominee. Because --

    HAYES: Which candidate specifically? Just in conversation?

    BACHMANN: I will -- we're among friends, right?

    BAIER: It's the panel.

    BACHMANN: It's the panel, we're among friends. And I think that is what is wonderful about the debate and the entire vetting process, because then the voters get to see for themselves where the candidates stand on this issue.

    And my point is, quite simply, what I'm seeing on the ground is that President Obama will be a one-term president. And that's just among Democrats let alone independents and Republicans. So we should not settle. In this year of all years we can have it all in our nominee. We can have a true fiscal conservative, a true national security conservative. We can have someone who is a social conservative and a Tea Partier. We can have the whole ball of wax. We can win this thing and actually change the agenda here in Washington.

    HAYES: Some people have speculated that you were talking about Mitt Romney there. And my question is if Mitt Romney were the nominee, would we a year from now see you out on the campaign trail fundraising for him?

    BACHMANN: Well, that would be an absurd question for me to answer, because I am running to be the Republican nominee and I'm running very seriously. I'm running very strongly and we're getting a marvelous response on the ground.

    BAIER: Well, let me follow on that. Since the Iowa straw poll win, in the polls you have been down in single digits, depending on the poll you look at. The latest one was the Washington Post/ABC News poll which has you down at seven percent. What do you think has happened? And what do you see happening?

    BACHMANN: Well, of course, the media every day wants to decide who the next President of the United States will be, but the American people aren't going to let that happen. Surely there is a change. Governor Perry entered the race. That changed the dynamic. And of course, the dynamic has changed also in the last three to four weeks. And so we are seeing a roller coaster like we have never seen before. I'm hanging on for the long haul. That is what the American people are. At the end of the day, people want to know who is the serious candidate who's gonna turn the economy around. And who can they trust? And I'm that candidate.

    BAIER: Congresswoman, thank you very much. We're going to continue this conversation online. Stay with us.

    That is it for the panel here, but stay tuned for some digital hijinks that have made for funny kickers in recent days. We'll see if this one works or not.

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