NBC's Vieira Fails to Knock Michele Bachmann Off Her Game

NBC's Meredith Vieira tried her best to get Minnesota Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann off her game, on Tuesday's Today show, by repeatedly pressing her to admit that the Tea Party has "lost its focus" and was "losing its way" over social issues, adding that since some of their candidates are "so far out of the mainstream" they can't win. However Bachmann never took Vieira's bait, as she pointed out the Tea Party candidates like Ken Buck and Marco Rubio "have caught fire" and are "energizing the Republican Party."

Vieira, following the lead of her Today co-anchor Matt Lauer from yesterday's show, repeatedly tried to hit Bachmann over the head with comments made by Republican New York gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino about homosexuality, but Bachmann kept the focus on the core issues of spending, taxes and the need for Congress to "act within the bounds of the Constitution," as seen in the following exchange:

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MEREDITH VIEIRA: You are probably tied more closely to the Tea Party movement than anyone else in Congress. Its supporters, many of them, I need to ask you this, are concerned that the, the Tea Party movement has lost its focus. That instead of concentrating on taxes and spending, it's spending a lot of time debating social issues. We saw that this past weekend in New York. The Republican candidate for governor, Carl Paladino was taken to task for his comments about homosexuals and homosexuality. Do you believe that the Tea Party movement is losing its way?

MICHELE BACHMANN: No, the Tea Party movement I think has been very focused, because from the very beginning they have been concerned about the overreach of the liberals like Speaker Pelosi and President Obama and Congress and what they've been doing, by spending too much, taxing too much and adding too much with deficits. Because it's clearly led to job losses in our country. That's what the Tea Party is concerned with. Three main issues. Number one: government needs to spend less than what it takes in. Number two: don't raise taxes on anyone. Number three: they believe that Congress needs to act within the bounds of the Constitution.

The following is a complete transcript of the interview as it was aired on the October 12 Today show:

MEREDITH VIEIRA: Minnesota Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann started the Tea Party caucus in Congress and is up for re-election in November. Congresswoman, good morning to you.

[On screen headline: "Final 3 Weeks, Are Social Issues Drowning Out The Tea Party?"]

MICHELE BACHMANN: Good morning, Meredith.

VIEIRA: You are probably tied more closely to the Tea Party movement than anyone else in Congress. Its supporters, many of them, I need to ask you this, are concerned that the, the Tea Party movement has lost its focus. That instead of concentrating on taxes and spending, it's spending a lot of time debating social issues. We saw that this past weekend in New York. The Republican candidate for governor, Carl Paladino was taken to task for his comments about homosexuals and homosexuality. Do you believe that the Tea Party movement is losing its way?

BACHMANN: No, the Tea Party movement I think has been very focused, because from the very beginning they have been concerned about the overreach of the liberals like Speaker Pelosi and President Obama and Congress and what they've been doing, by spending too much, taxing too much and adding too much with deficits. Because it's clearly led to job losses in our country. That's what the Tea Party is concerned with. Three main issues. Number one: government needs to spend less than what it takes in. Number two: don't raise taxes on anyone. Number three: they believe that Congress needs to act within the bounds of the Constitution. People-

VIEIRA: But that's not what Carl Paladino was talking about over the weekend in New York. I want to quote, take a quote of his. He said that he did not want "children brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid or successful option, it isn't," end quote. Do you think that he was wrong to say that, especially given all these hate crimes that we've seen recently aimed at gays?

BACHMANN: I think people in the Tea Party movement agree on about a 70 percent set of issues. And it's a fairly wide umbrella, but it's been uniform. From the rise of the Tea Party movement until today the, the message hasn't changed. And it's the idea that government is trying to be completely different than anything we have ever seen before, with the rise of the spending and now actually adjourning Congress knowing that every tax paying American's taxes are going to go up dramatically. That's incensing people, because people recognize that's leading to more economic uncertainty and more job losses. It's the overreach.

VIEIRA: But, but again, Congresswoman do you, do you think that Carl Paladino was wrong to say what he said about homosexuals and homosexuality?

BACHMANN: Well I think really that isn't the issue that we're focusing on in this election. If you go from Minnesota to Florida to Maine to California, the issue is jobs and how the federal - the actions of Speaker Pelosi and Barack Obama have led to job failure, not job creation. And that's something that we can change. And I think that's why people recognize 22 days from now, we can actually take our country back and get back to fiscal sanity and that's what we need to do. That's why I think I've been one of Speaker Pelosi's top targets to defeat this fall. President Clinton came in, he was campaigning against me. In a couple of weeks Speaker Pelosi will be in Minnesota as will President Obama. Mine is a very high profile race-

VIEIRA: And yet if you look at-

BACHMANN: -and she's trying to do everything she can to defeat me.

VIEIRA: And if you look at some of these races, though, there's a concern that some of these Tea Party candidates are so far out of the mainstream that they can't win a general election, like Christine O'Donnell, for example, in Delaware, who won her primary but has, has dug herself into a hole, if you look at the polls now. Are you concerned about that, that these candidates will not be able to take it to the finish line?

BACHMANN: Actually the story has been completely the opposite, Meredith, whether it's Ken Buck in Colorado, Marco Rubio in Florida, or if we're looking at Rand Paul in Kentucky, the Tea Party candidates, Joe Miller in Alaska, the Tea Party candidates overwhelmingly have caught fire. And we're going to see a very different U.S. Senate and a very different House going forward, and that's good. That's energizing the Republican Party because the Tea Party really is the fire that's fueling the Republican Party right now and I think that's really to the detriment of the Democrats, unfortunately for them, because what it evidences is that Speaker Pelosi, Harry Reid and Barack Obama haven't been listening to the people. The people just want us to get back to fiscal sanity and I think the Republicans have shown that they've made mistakes, now they want to listen and they want to lead.

VIEIRA: Alright Congressman Michele Bachmann, thank you very much.

BACHMANN: Thank you Meredith.

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.