Matt Lauer Urges Bachmann to Bash Perry; NBC Debate Coverage Promotes GOP Infighting

In an interview with Michele Bachmann on Tuesday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer actually delayed discussion of job creation as he pushed her to attack Texas Governor Rick Perry: "We'll talk about jobs in a second, but I do want to stick on this controversy over...Perry mandating vaccinations for HPV."

Bachmann had attempted to begin on the subject of President Obama's jobs plan, but Lauer quickly steered her toward Republican infighting: "You not only question the policy [of mandating the HPV vaccine], but you questioned the motivation behind it, suggesting rather strongly that this could have been an attempt to appease a big drug company, Merck, because they contributed to his campaign. So I want you to lay this out for me. Is that what you are asserting?"

Bachmann maintained her criticism of Perry on the issue and Lauer continued to promote the division: "Do you feel he placed the health and safety of young girls in the state of Texas behind or below the need for campaign funds?...Do you think that you're going to continue to hammer away on this subject? Do you think there's traction to be found here?"

When Lauer finally asked Bachmann about her plan to create jobs, he skeptically wondered: "Part of your solution is to cut corporate taxes, cut spending, kill certain regulations, and repeal health care reform and Wall Street reform....there was high unemployment before health care reform and Wall Street reform were ever voted on. So why do you think that's so important? Where are the jobs there?"

Prior to Lauer's interview with Bachmann, chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd offered a report on Monday's Republican debate that focused solely on their attacks on each other, without a single mention of the numerous criticisms leveled against the Obama administration.

Todd noted Perry being the new front-runner in the race and declared: "...the Tea Party debate turned into a Texas bashfest." The headline on screen throughout the segment read: "Rick Perry on the Defensive at Tea Party Debate."

In between multiple sound bites of the GOP candidates going after each other, Todd interjected with observations on Perry's predicament:


Front-runner Rick Perry began his second-ever presidential debate trying to reassure seniors his 'Ponzi scheme' comments about Social Security were taken out of context....Unlike last week, Romney wasn't alone in going after Perry. Michele Bachmann hammered the Texas governor for his support of mandatory statewide vaccinations for girls 12 and over against infections that can cause cervical cancer....And it didn't get any easier for Perry when the issue of immigration came up, as the crowd let him know that they didn't like the Texas policy of giving in-state tuition benefits to the children of undocumented Mexican immigrants....It was that kind of night for Perry. It wasn't just from Romney and Bachmann, Santorum jumped in. Ron Paul hit him.

Here is a full transcript of Lauer's September 13 interview with Bachmann:

7:00AM ET TEASE:

MATT LAUER: Piling on. Michele Bachmann and the rest of the GOP presidential field lash out at the front-runner Rick Perry during a heated debate.

RICK PERRY: And if you're saying that I can be bought for 5,000, I'm offended.

MICHELE BACHMANN: Well, I'm offended for all of the little girls and the parents that didn't have a choice. That's what I'm offended for.

LAUER: This morning Michele Bachmann speaks out in a live interview.

7:12AM ET SEGMENT:

LAUER: GOP presidential hopeful and Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann is with us now from Tampa, Florida. Congresswoman Bachmann, good morning, nice to have you here.

MICHELE BACHMANN: Good morning, Matt. Thanks for having me on.

LAUER: It's our pleasure. Going into last night's debates, a lot political analysts said that you in particular needed to throw some punches and make some waves to get your campaign back on track. We heard some of your questions for Governor Perry. Did you accomplish that?

BACHMANN: Well, I think that the debate last night showed the real distinctions between the candidates and what I was trying to do is let people know also what my positive agenda is for moving the economy forward and job creation. And I think, in particular, with the jobs plan that President Obama just put forward, we'll hear more and more of those distinctions.

LAUER: You – we'll talk about jobs in a second, but I do want to stick on this controversy over the Governor in Texas, Governor Perry mandating vaccinations for HPV to prevent infections that could cause cervical cancer for girls as young as 12. You not only question the policy, but you questioned the motivation behind it, suggesting rather strongly that this could have been an attempt to appease a big drug company, Merck, because they contributed to his campaign. So I want you to lay this out for me. Is that what you are asserting?

BACHMANN: Well, it's very clear that crony capitalism could have likely been the cause because the Governor's former chief of staff was the chief lobbyist for this drug company. This was an issue that could have gone before the legislature, but rather than putting it before hearings and before the legislature, the Governor chose by himself, unilaterally, to sign an executive order and put through the requirement that all innocent little 12-year-old girls or 11-year-old girls in the state of Texas would be forced by the government to take an injection of what could potentially be a very dangerous drug. And after the debate last night-

LAUER: So do you feel – do you feel he placed the health and safety of young girls in the state of Texas behind or below the need for campaign funds?

BACHMANN: Well, I will tell you that I had a mother last night come up to me here in Tampa, Florida, after the debate. She told me that her little daughter took that vaccine, that injection, and she suffered from mental retardation thereafter. It can have very dangerous side effects. The mother was crying what she came up to me last night. I didn't know who she was before the debate. This is the very real concern and people have to draw their own conclusions.

LAUER: Do you think that you're going to continue to hammer away on this subject? Do you think there's traction to be found here?

BACHMANN: Well, I think that this was traction with a lot of people and we'll see what people say about this. But again, it's drawing the very real distinctions that you can't abuse executive authority with executive orders because there could be very negative consequences that the American people have to pay. And again, there is no second chance for these little girls if there's any dangerous consequences to their bodies or for their parents.

LAUER: You – on the subject of job creation – part of your solution is to cut corporate taxes, cut spending, kill certain regulations, and repeal health care reform and Wall Street reform. Now, on the last two there, there was high unemployment before health care reform and Wall Street reform were ever voted on. So why do you think that's so important? Where are the jobs there?

BACHMANN: Well, we know from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, their estimate is that over 800,000 jobs will be lost as a result of the government takeover of health care, otherwise known as ObamaCare. That's a very real number, 800,000 jobs lost, and I can verify that when I'm going from business to business to business. Job creators tell me that they're holding back on hiring because the costs of ObamaCare are so high. I also talked to a number of people in the financial services industry on the Dodd-Frank bill and they're telling me also that they aren't hiring because of the Dodd-Frank bill. In particular, banks are telling me that they're closing big branch banks and they're letting people go. So this – these bills aren't without job losses.

LAUER: In just the 15 seconds I have left, when you run for president you promise people a brighter future. So if you were lucky enough to be elected president, the unemployment rate right now at about 9.1%, what would it stand at after a year of a Bachmann administration? What could you promise?

BACHMANN: Well, I can tell you what I would do to bring it down and then, of course, the marketplace would have to prevail. And I would bring in money that's been earned overseas into the United States by having a 0% repatriation tax. There's 1.2 trillion in money that we could wash across the United States tomorrow if we would have this 0% tax rate, and then I want to permanently bring those jobs back to the United States by lowering the tax on job creators. That's the very first step, because we need permanent solutions in the private sector, not temporary government fixes.

LAUER: Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. Congresswoman Bachmann, thanks for your time this morning. I appreciate it.

BACHMANN: Thanks, Matt.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC