In an interview with Congresswoman Michele Bachmann on Tuesday's Today, co-host Matt Lauer highlighted concerns about the Minnesota Republican's chances in the presidential race: "Amy Kremer, who's a leader of the Tea Party movement, said...that you will be – and this is her word, not mine – quote, 'Palinized' in this campaign. Do you understand the verb, and what would your definition of it be?"
While Bachmann attempted to discuss her record, Lauer remained focused on the remark: "I'm not trying to interrupt, but I'm asking you specifically about what this leader of the Tea Party is worried about, that you will be 'Palinized.' Again, that's her word. What do you understand that to mean?" Bachmann defined the term for him: "I think that means that there will be a media onslaught of attack. But that's nothing new....There will be attacks that come....And I'm prepared."
Earlier in the interview, Lauer characterized Bachmann as being "angry" with fellow Republicans over past compromises on the budget and wondered: "So are you confident now in the debate that's going on over raising the debt ceiling that people like Mitch McConnell and John Boehner will not cave in and make you angry again?" After Bachmann explained the importance of cutting spending, Lauer again depicted her as being angered by compromise: "I'm just saying, are you confident that there will not be a compromise of the nature that will make you angry again?"
Prior to the interview, correspondent Kelly O'Donnell touted a minor mistake by Bachmann about the Iowa birthplace of actor John Wayne as a sign of more serious problems: "But it's her own words causing more distraction....Iowans will tell you John Wayne was born 150 miles away in Winterset. Details that fit a pattern of factual errors that hurt Bachmann."
A sound bite followed from Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post, who argued: "Those kind of gaffes will catch up with her, and they're more meaningful and will get more attention because of her status."
O'Donnell placed similar emphasis on Bachmann's gaffes during a report for Monday's Nightly News, asserting that the Congresswoman "has been embarrassed by a string of factual errors."
Here is a full transcript of Lauer's June 28 interview with Bachmann:
MATT LAUER: Congresswoman Michele Bachmann is with us this morning from Manchester, New Hampshire. Congresswoman Bachmann, it's nice to have you here again. Thank you.
MICHELE BACHMANN: Good morning. Always a pleasure. Thank you for having me on.
LAUER: Let's talk about the polls, the Des Moines Register poll that was released over the weekend has you running neck-and-neck with Mitt Romney in that state. Obviously, the Iowa caucuses are important. You get a lot of early attention in the race. They haven't always, though, been the greatest predictor of who eventually gets the nomination. I think only about 50% of the time. So are you at all concerned that your socially conservative views that make you very popular in Iowa might not play as well down the road?
BACHMANN: Well, I'm in New Hampshire now. I was in this Iowa yesterday, New Hampshire today. I'm on my way to South Carolina, where we'll start a bus tour, and then we'll be back to Iowa. I intend to have a 50-state campaign, because I intend to be the nominee that takes on Barack Obama and defeats him in 2012. That's why we've had so many people flock to our new website launch at MicheleBachmann.com and join us on Facebook and Twitter.
BACHMANN: They've recognized we are the candidate that's going places now in this election. We're very excited with all of the response across the country.
LAUER: Let's talk about some ideas here. Obviously, you talk to people around the country, they say jobs. That is the most important issue in the upcoming campaign. So what would you do today, Congresswoman, that President Obama is not doing, to bring down the nation's unemployment rate of 9.1%?
BACHMANN: Right. Well, probably the first thing that I would do is I would repeal ObamaCare. That's the worst regulation that's come forward. I've talked to business owners all across the United States, and because of the fear of the uncertainty and the huge fines that employers will be imposed to pay to the federal government, they aren't hiring. And that's a very difficult proposition. So I would do that. I would also not be looking at spending a trillion dollars that we don't have.
BACHMANN: I would be cutting back on federal spending. I would also bring down the federal corporate tax rate. And I would be looking at the federal regulatory burden, which costs our businesses $1.7 trillion a year. There's a lot we could do to turn this around.
LAUER: I remember back in April you were critical of the budget deal that was reached between Republicans and Democrats. You thought, I think, in some ways that the Republican leadership caved in. So are you confident now in the debate that's going on over raising the debt ceiling that people like Mitch McConnell and John Boehner will not cave in and make you angry again?
BACHMANN: Well, we're – this is the debt ceiling vote. And this would be allowing the federal government to continue borrowing money that we don't have.
BACHMANN: It's $2.4 trillion. And from what I've seen in my time in Washington, is a lack of a serious attempt at cutting spending. Unless there's a serious attempt on cutting back federal spending, I just simply can't vote to raise the debt ceiling. I'll give you one very-
LAUER: No, and Republicans have already said they want that cut back in spending. I'm just saying, are you confident that there will not be a compromise of the nature that will make you angry again?
BACHMANN: I'm not confident at all. That's why I'm very concerned about what I'm seeing. I'm hopeful. I am hopeful that we'll – politicians in Washington will be listening to people on the ground. And there are a lot of good people. A lot of good colleagues that I have. But we have to deliver results for the American people and turn the economy around so we get it on the right track. There's a lot of people that are suffering right now. I see them. I saw them in Iowa yesterday. Today I'll be with people in New Hampshire. And when they see me in the backyard barbecues and the town hall meetings, it's real. This isn't something that's hype. The suffering is real. And unfortunately, President Obama is not paying attention to what people are trying to get his attention and tell them.
LAUER: Let me read you something. Amy Kremer, who's a leader of the Tea Party movement, said to NBC's Andrea Mitchell on Monday, Congresswoman Bachmann, that you will be – and this is her word, not mine, quote, 'Palinized' in this campaign. Do you understand the verb, and what would your definition of it be?
BACHMANN: Well, I know that I bring a unique skill set to the race. And my skill set that I bring is that of being a former federal tax lawyer, my husband and I started a successful small business. We've also started a charter school for at-risk children.
LAUER: No, I understand, and I'm not trying to interrupt, but I'm asking you specifically about what this leader of the Tea Party is worried about, that you will be 'Palinized.' Again, that's her word. What do you understand that to mean?
BACHMANN: Well, I think that means that there will be a media onslaught of attack. But that's nothing new. That's something that goes with the territory. It doesn't matter who the candidate is, whether they're male or female. There will be attacks that come. And that's simply what we have to be prepared to deal with. And I'm prepared.
LAUER: Alright. Michele Bachmann, just announced her candidacy for the presidency. Congratulations Congresswoman, and again, thank you for your time this morning.
BACHMANN: Thank you. We'll be back again soon.
LAUER: Alright. We hope so.