Bachmann for President?

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," June 27, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


REP. MICHELE BACHMANN, R - MINN.: Americans agree our country is in peril today and we have to act with urgency in order to save it, because Americans aren't interested in affiliation. They're interested in solutions and leadership that will tell them the truth. And the truth is, all of us, we, the American people are the solution, not our government, because this issue is about big issues. It's not about petty ones.

I am Michele Bachmann. I am running for the president of the United States.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Michele Bachmann in Waterloo, Iowa, today. This as a new poll came out over the weekend, The Des Moines Register poll. And there you see it. She is one point back in this poll, of course, it's plus or minus roughly five percent. But this is a poll that bodes well for Michele Bachmann as she launches her campaign. She was on "Fox News Sunday" with Chris Wallace this weekend. And there was an interesting exchange there that required Chris to address it after the show.



BACHMANN: Well I think that would be insulting to say something like that, because I'm a serious person.

WALLACE: I messed up. I'm sorry. I didn't mean any disrespect. I'm simply was trying to put an issue that's out there directly to her because some people do dismiss her as a flake. As I say, I thought her answer was pretty strong as she talked about her professional experience, her business experience, her political experience. But if my question got in the way of what I think is a good interview, as I say, I didn't do it right. And it's always a learning process and I learned something today.


BAIER: Chris' question did cause a lot of controversy on the internet, we are told that Chris has reached out to Congresswoman Bachmann and apologized in person, over the phone and she has accepted that apology.

We're back with the panel. Playing the role of A.B. is Bill Kristol. We lost A.B. to a coughing fit there in the break. And I think she is doing OK in the green room. Let's talk about Michele Bachmann and this weekend. Today's launch and the interview over the weekend. Bill?

BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: I think, Charles, you should not have called A.B. a flake. Drove her off the set. No. Actually I saw --

BAIER: That a joke.


KRISTOL: That was a joke. And we all wish A.B. well as she has a coughing fit.

I actually saw Michele Bachmann after the interview with Chris and she was fine and actually she thought she had done pretty well answering Chris' questions as she had. She is strong in the Iowa poll. I think she's a much stronger candidate than anyone thought six months ago, that's what's striking. If you look at the Iowa poll, it's 23/22, Romney over Bachmann. If you look at favorable, unfavorable, Romney is 52 favorable, 38 unfavorable. He's got some problems in Iowa, probably because he's indicated that he is not going to campaign there very much. Bachmann is 65 favorable 12 unfavorable in Iowa. Among likely caucus goers in Iowa, pretty strong position for her to be in.

And I think it's partly due to her personal, sort of, charisma but more due to the fact that she is running as an unapologetic strong across the board conservative. She said in her speech today, she is a national security conservative, a peace through strength hawk, she's a social and she's a fiscal conservative and she's willing to fight for all those things. And I think a lot of Republicans out in the country want to hear that.

BAIER: What about the launch today and the speech today, Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I thought it was not a particularly inspiring speech. I don't think that stem-winders are her strong point. It was a straight speech. It had little Reagan elements about government is not the solution which is a Reagan trope. He used it in his inaugural address actually in 1981. She is sort of running as a Reaganite, tea party, her strength is the give and take, the way she distinguished herself in the debate, the way she has on the floor of the House, the way she has on television. So I think she is going to be somebody who will impress, not necessarily through speeches.

I think also that she is now, and this is probably going to be tough on her, the frontrunner in Iowa, which nobody would have said six months ago, which puts pressure on her because she needs actually to win now. I think anything less than that would be seen as a disappointment. I think her chances are good of winning. If she does, I think she'll have -- she'll be again -- this is I think, when the script was written in 2008 by Huckabee, the expected second tier candidate who emerges and distinguishes him or herself in Iowa and becomes a strong candidate in the rest of the primaries. Her path is a difficult one. And I assume she won't succeed in the end. However, if she does well after Iowa, assuming she wins it, I think she'd be right up there as a choice for vice president.

BAIER: I'm sorry A.B. had her coughing fit because I wanted to ask her about the question that Chris phrased over the weekend. We received literally hundreds of e-mails from people who were irate about the question, many of them from women who thought that a Republican male candidate would not be asked that type of question that way. The fallout from that, Bill?

KRISTOL: Look, I think it was great for her. George H. W. Bush, the first President Bush running as vice president, remember there was this whole controversy was he a wimp or something like that? Wasn't that it? And didn't Dan Rather ask him a question, kind of in an obnoxious way in late 1987? I've forgotten the details. And Bush really struck back in a strong way and sort of reassured Republicans that he was up to taking on the mainstream media.

I don't want to compare Chris to Dan Rather. For a minute, I think Chris was just trying to say, ya know, this is a reputation that some people have described to you but he let her answer it. And I think she's put the issue away. Ya know she'll make occasional gaffes. Everyone does. Some are more prone to speaking to that than others, but at the end of the day, I think she will be judged by her message, and that's in a way -- in that respect, yesterday's interview did her a service I think.

KRAUTHAMMER: I would say that considering how often Chris has questioned me on the air as if I was a flake, I wish he'd actually ask me one straight out.

Look, it's simply a convention. If you're a questioner the rule is supposed to be, you say other people are calling you a flake, how do you react? Ya know if he had done it that way, nobody would have mentioned anything. He asked in a direct way, which is essentially what everybody does, except in this sort of artificial construction and he got assaulted for that.

I think it's a legitimate question that you can ask of a male or a female candidate. I would ask it of Ron Paul. And that's not a sexist thing. People have said some things he wants to abolish the Fed and FEMA and practically everything. So it's a legitimate question in some context. I don't think it's a matter of sexism.

BAIER: Bottom line, Michele Bachmann is going to be a force not only in Iowa, maybe in South Carolina and elsewhere.

KRAUTHAMMER: Absolutely. I think particularly if she wins in Iowa, she will be a first tier candidate and contender in every state.

KRISTOL: Absolutely. And the question -- she's a Tea Party favorite and the question for me is, is she Marco Rubio? Someone who started out from nowhere and upset the establishment candidate in Florida in 2010, Charlie Crist? Who everybody here watched and thought a year beforehand was sure to be the next senator from Florida. Or is she Christine O'Donnell who defeated a Republican in the primary in Delaware and then got clobbered in the general election? I would say she is more like Marco Rubio.

BAIER: The report is A.B. is OK, sipping on lemon tea.

That's it for the panel. Stay tuned to see why timing is very important in the television industry.

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