OTR Interviews

Bachmann 'Moving in the Direction' of 'Testing the Waters' of a White House Run, Says GOP Could Have Defunded 'Obamacare'

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," April 14, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Right here, right now, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann! Now, she said no today, no to her House Republican leadership and no to the 2011 fiscal year budget. Why? Well, let's ask her. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann joins us.

And I guess you're not too popular today, or at least not in the Republican circles on Capitol Hill.

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN, R-MINN.: Well, I do know that the people that I've heard from on the phone today are very happy that I voted no against the budget. They expected more. We had a mandate from the electorate in November, and they said, Get serious about cutting the deficit. Get serious about cutting spending. And please defund "Obamacare." And unfortunately, that didn't happen. I couldn't vote for the budget. It didn't do what I had hoped it would.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, so it's really -- the hang-up, as I understand it from our prior conversations for you mostly was the defunding of the national health care. That was it. So you never had any intention of negotiation whether it be $40 billion or $38 billion. That really wasn't...

BACHMANN: Because that's an issue that we could win on. There's a -- Gallup had a poll that came out two days ago. Now "Obamacare" is down to an all-time low of 35 percent approval. That means two thirds of the American people public don't want to have this bill. They want it defunded. We could have won this issue, I'm fully convinced.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is -- have you spoken to Speaker Boehner at all about your vote, even before it or even after it?

BACHMANN: Well, I don't disclose what goes on in conversations like that. But you know, he is open and willing to speak to any of us, and I have a good relationship with him.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why -- why didn't -- why wasn't the issue of the defunding in it?

BACHMANN: Well, I think there's a difference of opinion and a difference of strategy. I think that there -- one camp felt that this was probably a battle that couldn't be won. I felt that it was. We have the people on our side. Remember, the lead-up to November, the American people understood "Obamacare." They understood what was in that bill. They wanted us to get rid of it. They wanted us to fight.

Senior citizens got it. They knew that Barack Obama took half a trillion, $500 billion out of Medicare and shifted it to "Obama care." We had senior citizens on that vote. Every age span, every gender, every economic sector is with us on this issue. I know that we could have won this fight.

VAN SUSTEREN: On Friday night, when we were doing the show -- the vote went down during our two-hour show -- it looked like that many Republicans were taking a bit of a victory lap because it was $38 billion and it was a spending cut. Then last night, we read that the CBO, a non- partisan -- scores it, and suddenly, it's not $38 billion in cuts but effectively about $350 million, which is profoundly less. Is there a reaction in sort of echoing in the Republican side of the House of Representatives that the deal was a bad deal and that they never should have agreed to it, or are Republicans satisfied with it?

BACHMANN: Well, some are, some aren't. It's mixed. I think that, yes, there is an echoing. That was a story in "The National Journal," and the numbers were from the Congressional Budget Office that said that we went from $38.5 billion down to $352 million. We contacted CBO to see what those numbers were. Now, to be fair to the House leadership, the $38.5 million is a true number...


BACHMANN: I'm sorry. Thank you, billion -- meaning that they were cutting that much out of authorization. But what that means -- the CBO number is also correct because what they're saying is, they're seeing that that -- those are actual cuts, but more than that could be cut within that allowance.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, the other is...

BACHMANN: It's complicated.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is the other a little bit fantasy cuts, the $38 billion? I mean, that was money that wasn't even authorized to be spent?

BACHMANN: Well, you know, I voted against it.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. OK, so...


VAN SUSTEREN: You don't want to defend it. All right. OK.

BACHMANN: I'm in trouble enough already as it is, Greta!

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Iowa -- I looked in the Iowa newspaper tonight, The Des Moines Register, and there's your picture out there. You're all over Iowa in the Iowa newspaper. Senator Santorum was here last night. He said he's testing the waters. You've spent so much time in Iowa. I know you're from Iowa. But is -- you're moving in that direction, do you agree, to run, you're moving in that direction without any formal declaration?

BACHMANN: Yes, I am. I'm moving in that direction, but I haven't made an announcement yet, and I don't really expect to until early June. As you can imagine, it's a momentous decision. There's a lot of pieces and moving parts that have to be put together. We've done really well on fund- raising. We raised more money than anyone else who's considering running for the presidency. And it's a very broad-based level of support. They're small donations, maybe $45 on average. But it's from people all across the United States because I think they recognize that I'm not a part of the political establishment and I want to fight against the political establishment, and that's something people I think appreciate.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I think the money is huge. I think it was...


VAN SUSTEREN: ... $2 million that you raised...


BACHMANN: Over $2 million.

VAN SUSTEREN: Over the quarter. So I mean, since money seems to be so important to all these races -- regrettably that money has such an important part of our politics, but that's how you pay for these things. What is it that would tip your thought in either direction, not to run or to run, in light of the fact that you seem to be able to raise money.

BACHMANN: Well, number one, my husband and I both have to know that we know that we know this is the right thing to do. So we have to be fully convinced. And a lot of times, you'll hear someone say they have to have a fire in the belly. You know, I think that to go through something like a presidential run, it is going through a meat grinder. I mean, it isn't just me. It isn't just my husband. It isn't just our kids. Every part of our life is gone through. And so we have to make sure we can do that.

But also, just like anything else I've done -- I'm a tax lawyer. I've tried hundreds of cases. We've built a business. I run other campaigns. You have to plan and put the resources together to get to yes and to get to success. Everything I've done, I've planned, and that's what we're in the process of doing, bringing resources and people together to make sure that if we do this, we're successful.

VAN SUSTEREN: Congresswoman, nice to see you. And of course, we'll be watching very carefully, as we always do.

BACHMANN: Thank you.

VAN SUSTEREN: Nice to see you.

BACHMANN: Thank you.