NBC's Curry to Michele Bachmann: Has Boehner 'Lost All Control' of House GOP?

On Wednesday's NBC Today, co-host Ann Curry led off an interview with Congresswoman Michele Bachmann by wondering if House Speaker John Boehner was a liar or just incompetent: "Did House Speaker John Boehner mislead the Senate into thinking this payroll tax extension was a done deal? Or has he lost all control of Republican Tea Party members of the House?" [Audio available here]

Bachmann pointed to the Democrats: "...there is a real lack of leadership in Washington, D.C. The President, unfortunately, has been awol in this process since early last summer, and now here we are....Harry Reid essentially threw a grenade over into the House and left, and said take it or leave it. So it was very difficult for John Boehner, because this was just a two-month temporary gimmick..." [View video after the jump]

Curry then tried to blame Bachmann for the failure to pass an tax cut extension: "If you're saying that there was a need for leadership, then why wasn't this bill, which would extend a tax cut for working families and for middle class Americans, why was it not worth your getting off the campaign trail and going back to fight for it?"

In response, Bachmann explained: "Well, because there was no resolution. It was obvious that there – nothing was going to happen. President Obama wasn't willing to engage in the process. Harry Reid made a decision, like I said, to throw over a two-month bill. I was fully prepared to go back if there was something that we could vote on."

Turning to the presidential race, Curry attacked Bachmann for a recent op-ed in an Iowa newspaper: "...you wrote quote, 'Whether Iowans choose me or one of the other candidates, the time is long overdue that a person of character is returned to the office.' Is President Obama not a person of character?...you're using this word 'return to the White House,' you're saying, 'return to the White House.' You're questioning whether the President is a person of character."

Bachmann defended her statement: "Well, what I'm saying in those remarks is as people are choosing who will be the nominee for our party, will the person have character in that they are a person of their word, they have honesty, their integrity, you can trust what they say.... I think that's very important for our next candidate for president."


Here is a full transcript of the December 21 interview:

7:00AM ET TEASE:

ANN CURRY: Where's the holiday cheer? President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner square off as the payroll tax standoff goes down to the wire. And GOP presidential frontrunner Newt Gingrich blasts Mitt Romney for what he calls, "politics in its worst form." Today, Republican hopeful Michele Bachmann weighs in.

7:05 ET SEGMENT:

ANN CURRY: With just 13 days to go before the Iowa caucus's, GOP presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann is barnstorming through all 99 counties in the state. And she's joining us now from Davenport. Congressman – Congresswoman Bachmann. Good morning.

MICHELE BACHMANN: Good morning, Ann. It's a pleasure to be with you this morning. We're actually almost halfway through our 99-county tour. We're doing about ten counties a day. It's ambitious, but it's been a lot of fun and the response has been overwhelming.

CURRY: Well, you look no worse for the wear. I want to ask you about this payroll tax deal controversy. Did House Speaker John Boehner mislead the Senate into thinking this payroll tax extension was a done deal? Or has he lost all control of Republican Tea Party members of the House?

BACHMANN: Well, I think what we saw with both the Senate dismissing and with the House leaving is that there is a real lack of leadership in Washington, D.C. The President, unfortunately, has been awol in this process since early last summer, and now here we are. And people all across the United States are throwing their hands up saying, "We still have no answers." So people are very upset.

Harry Reid – Harry Reid essentially threw a grenade over into the House and left, and said take it or leave it. So it was very difficult for John Boehner, because this was just a two-month temporary gimmick, and this leaves the entire United States business world in an uproar because who can make any plans based on a two-month bill?

CURRY: If you're saying-

BACHMANN: That's very difficult. What the House wanted was a full year bill.

CURRY: If you're saying that there was a need for leadership, then why wasn't this bill, which would extend a tax cut for working families and for middle class Americans, why was it not worth your getting off the campaign trail and going back to fight for it?

BACHMANN: Well, because there was no resolution. It was obvious that there – nothing was going to happen. President Obama wasn't willing to engage in the process. Harry Reid made a decision, like I said, to throw over a two-month bill. I was fully prepared to go back if there was something that we could vote on. But it was very clear from the beginning that this was about politics. And that's what people are tired of. They don't want the politics. They just want the country to work again and so do I.

CURRY: On the topic of politics, you wrote on op-ed recently for The Des Moines Register, and you wrote quote, "Whether Iowans choose me or one of the other candidates, the time is long overdue that a person of character is returned to the office." Is President Obama not a person of character?

BACHMANN: Well, what I'm looking at is the Federalist Papers that the founders wrote, that the most important aspect for our country is a person of character. And that's been a question among all of the Republicans and certainly among Democrats, too, what is their character?

CURRY: But you're using this word "return to the White House," you're saying, "return to the White House." You're questioning whether the President is a person of character.

BACHMANN: Well, what I'm saying in those remarks is as people are choosing who will be the nominee for our party, will the person have character in that they are a person of their word, they have honesty, their integrity, you can trust what they say. That's one thing people know about me, is that I'm very sincere, I'm very authentic, I say what I mean, I mean what I say, and my word is my bond. I think that's very important for our next candidate for president.

CURRY: Alright. Well, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, we know you got up early to talk to us and we're grateful for that. Thank you so much.

BACHMANN: Good morning, Ann. Thank you.         

CURRY: Alright.

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