This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," February 7, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Right now, we are closely watching the election results come in. Minnesota is one of the states picking a candidate tonight. Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann joins us. Good evening.
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN, R-MINN./FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good evening. Good to be with you.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, at least right now, it seems like a very big night in many ways for Senator Rick Santorum. The AP announced that he's won the state of Missouri. And he's leading in Minnesota. But I'm curious -- this isn't binding in Minnesota, is it.
BACHMANN: It's not binding. It's very different. Minnesota's a grass roots state. I love the way politics is done there because anyone can show up. You don't have to be a Republican to show up tonight. Anyone can show up. You can caucus.
But from there, a very few people will go on to the senate district convention, and then from there, even fewer people will go on to the congressional convention. Then from there, even fewer people to the state convention. So the people who showed up tonight and who voted tonight won't necessarily be the people who are voting on the final night, which is the state.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, when is the state convention likely to be?
BACHMANN: Oh, it's later on this spring, a long time from now. So we won't know for a long time how many delegates -- this is a good indicator of, like, a beauty contest, you might say. It's not binding, but we'll know later, much later this spring.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, so theoretically, you could win tonight, like Senator Rick Santorum is likely to in Minnesota, but by the time you get down to the state convention, there could be another candidate who wins the state convention delegates?
BACHMANN: It could be because you may have slates of Ron Paul or Romney or Gingrich or Santorum where it's -- where everybody is committed to one candidate win, and it may not be reflective of tonight.
VAN SUSTEREN: How can that be fair?
VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, how does it make any sense whatsoever? Why would you campaign in Minnesota for tonight? I mean, I guess it's sort of symbolically -- but I mean, you could very -- I mean, this could be very painful at the state convention ...
BACHMANN: Well, it's a great system because...
VAN SUSTEREN: How!
BACHMANN: ... each of the candidates have the opportunity to recruit anyone they want to come out tonight. Then it's up to them to continue recruiting of the number that are there -- they have to continue to recruit their slate to go on to the next level. And it's four levels. So it's very involved, very complicated, but if you're highly motivated and if the grass roots base likes you, they'll stick with you.
But I think this is interesting because if you look at Minnesota, Santorum now is at 43. Santorum's at 55 in Missouri, 50 in Colorado. This is showing he's having a great night. But it really reflects what's on the voters' minds.
And I think especially in this last week, this is reflective of President Obama and the big mistake that he's made on "ObamaCare" with the contraception and the fact that he's mandating that the Catholic church and other organizations have to make these purchases of health care decisions based on reproductive rights. If that's the case, I think you're seeing a lot of people react against President Obama's policies.
VAN SUSTEREN: So you think that this is -- that this vote is largely determined in the last few days. I mean, this whole idea -- this whole issue of contraception has arisen in the last few days.
BACHMANN: We haven't had a social issue election yet. This is the first one. And I think that that in part might explain these results. But I think, again, President Obama has done himself no favors on reelection because the people are upset.
I will tell you that's why we saw the results in 2010. That's why the House gained majority, over "ObamaCare." People are very upset about it. And President Obama, that's his signature issue for 2012. So I think he's in big trouble because that's an issue that is not popular with the voters.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Minnesota went for President Obama in 2008, and it traditionally goes Democratic.
BACHMANN: It always -- Minnesota has gone for a Democrat for president longer than any other state in the country.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right...
BACHMANN: That's why I'm the first and only Republican woman ever to win out of Minnesota.
VAN SUSTEREN: If Governor Romney doesn't, when the numbers finally settle in Minnesota and does -- doesn't -- he's not going to -- doesn't look like he's going to win, but if he does even poorly, go down around third or fourth, what about Governor Pawlenty, who is the former Minnesota governor, who is one of his surrogates who's been out there for him? You know, is that a slap in the face to Governor Pawlenty?
BACHMANN: Well, again, remember, the vote tonight is not necessarily reflective of the final vote. It's an indicator, but we have...
VAN SUSTEREN: It's a lousy indicator! That means -- it may -- it may be...
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, would you be -- if you -- if you come in fourth tonight in Minnesota...
BACHMANN: You still have a chance.
VAN SUSTEREN: Yes, but would you feel very good? Would you feel very good?
BACHMANN: Well, of course, you want to be a winner tonight. But you've got...
VAN SUSTEREN: I'd feel a lot better...
BACHMANN: You've got a lot more hurdles and a lot more gates to go through. So it depends. You know, these candidates are going 50 statewide. It depends on how much energy you want to expend on the various states.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, you say energy, but energy often means money, right?
BACHMANN: Sure, but here's the great thing about Minnesota. It is actually a very finite pool of people because now you've -- you only have to go through a few thousand. So it's no...
VAN SUSTEREN: That's a lot!
BACHMANN: It's no longer about buying very expensive TV. Now it's going to be about getting exactly to those voters. So these voters might get knocks on their door. They might get personal visits in their living room. It's very personal.
VAN SUSTEREN: But you don't know who they are, right? I mean, as...
BACHMANN: No, you don't.
VAN SUSTEREN: As of when...
BACHMANN: They will after tonight.
VAN SUSTEREN: They'll know who these people are?
BACHMANN: There'll be a list of everyone...
VAN SUSTEREN: Of a thousand!
BACHMANN: ... that comes...
VAN SUSTEREN: Of a thousand.
BACHMANN: There'll be a list of everyone who comes, and then they'll be recruited to go to the next level. And a lot of people fall off. And so it's up to each candidate to do the recruiting.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well...
BACHMANN: And it depends on what issues are important to the people that get recruited. Tonight, I think there's a very strong reflection that issues like standing up for pro-life, standing for traditional marriage. I think that you're seeing a very strong reaction tonight. Again, bad news for President Obama tonight with these results. And it shows the strength of the pro-family movement.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. I don't want to kick a dead horse, but according to my notes, last time around, 2008, there were 62,000 votes in the primary. So I mean, now it's winnowed down to 62,000 that you have to now sort of figure out who they are as you lead on to the state convention.
BACHMANN: Oh, it'll be far less than that.
VAN SUSTEREN: Yes, but...
BACHMANN: It'll get down -- it'll get down to...
VAN SUSTEREN: But you don't know who they are!
BACHMANN: It'll get down to -- no, they will because all of that data's collected tonight. I know it sounds complicated.
VAN SUSTEREN: It is!
BACHMANN: But it's winnowed down to, actually, a few hundred, then a few -- or a few thousand and then a few hundred. And so it's nice for the candidates, Greta, because actually, they only focus on very few people.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right.
BACHMANN: And it can be done.
VAN SUSTEREN: This is -- if Senator Santorum takes Minnesota and Missouri -- they're beauty contests, for lack of a better word -- he also took Iowa, it looks like he plays pretty well in the Midwest.
BACHMANN: In the heartland.
VAN SUSTEREN: In the heartland.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is that -- is that something if you are a Speaker Gingrich, a Congressman Ron Paul and a Governor Romney, you would be a little bit disheartened about tonight?
BACHMANN: I think that what this says to them is the message that the others are sending. The voters from the heartland believe very strongly in the family, traditional values and pro-life.
VAN SUSTEREN: (INAUDIBLE) all that?
BACHMANN: I think that what the voters are saying by the person that they're choosing is they see, so far at least, that they see that Rick Santorum is reflective of those views. I think that's why they may be going in that direction.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is this a huge boost to his campaign? Will he get money over the transom after tonight, if he does very well?
BACHMANN: It very well could be, but it depends on what the sources are, where they're coming from. Is it -- is it local people? Is it small donations? Is it large donations? Because every campaign needs money to fuel -- to fly the mother ship, you might say.
VAN SUSTEREN: I know you were interviewed by Al Hunt, and he asked who the true conservative is and you said, I am.
BACHMANN: Well, of course.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, well, let me ask you this...
BACHMANN: Voters have a choice of their perfect candidate!
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, out of the four remaining, who's the truest conservative?
BACHMANN: Well, that's what the voters are going to decide because...
VAN SUSTEREN: What do you think?
BACHMANN: Well, it depends on what they're looking for.
VAN SUSTEREN: In your opinion? If you -- I mean, you're going to have to go and vote.
BACHMANN: I thought I was the core, consistent conservative...
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, well...
BACHMANN: ... in this race because -- what are voters looking for? They're looking for someone who's a true conservative on national security because President Obama has been a disaster on national security. They want to know who is a core conservative on the social issues, standing up for the family and for marriage and for life.
VAN SUSTEREN: Do you not think that...
BACHMANN: President Obama's been a disaster on that, and fiscal policy, which he's been a disaster on. They want to know who's the true fiscal conservative. So depending on the issue -- and people who are looking at one issue over another, they may tend to go over to one candidate over another. They want the whole package, then I think that will be -- that is really what this is about.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, let me ask you this way. Who's the least fiscal conservative out of this group of four?
BACHMANN: That will be for the voters to decide.
VAN SUSTEREN: So you won't tell me.
BACHMANN: I'm not going to tell you because -- and I'll tell you why. It's because I want to be a unifying voice for this party because under no circumstance can Barack Obama have a second term. It can't be. And so what I want to do is make sure that all the factions to come together. We are factionalized now as a party. We have to come together. That's what I'm focusing on. The big prize is November. We -- our party has to win.
VAN SUSTEREN: Do you...
BACHMANN: Because the American people have to win.
VAN SUSTEREN: Do you miss being in the race, sort of regret getting out?
BACHMANN: Well, I get a little bit more sleep, but what I do miss are the debates. I loved the debates! They were just fascinating in every respect because we could put out the compare and contrast, and we could tell the American people why Barack Obama has failed the American people, but also what the positive solution is to get the country back on the right track. I loved the debates.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, there's been some criticism the debate has turned into a slugfest and there isn't so much a chance to sort of -- for the party to go after its political opponent, President Obama, but that they're just going after each other and there's blood on the floor.
BACHMANN: Well, I enjoyed it because, again...
VAN SUSTEREN: The blood on the floor?
BACHMANN: No, I enjoyed the debates because the process -- it's invigoring intellectually, but it allows us to make our positive case, but also to demonstrate very clearly what it is that Barack Obama has done to fail us. And I'll be speaking at CPAC later this week on his national security failures. And that's something that hasn't been talked a lot about, but we need to. He's trumping getting Usama bin Laden and saying he's a tremendous president because of that. We're thrilled that we got Usama bin Laden. But he has made one disastrous decision after another, just like Jimmy Carter. Jimmy Carter's legacy is failures on foreign policy. I think that will be Barack Obama's legacy, as well.
VAN SUSTEREN: But a big night at least tonight for Senator Rick Santorum.
BACHMANN: So far, it looks so.
VAN SUSTEREN: So, it looks good for Rick Santorum. Anyway, Congresswoman, always nice to see you.
BACHMANN: Good to see you.