Good Morning America's George Stephanopoulos, host of the same program that provided Barack Obama with a 15 minute platform to talk about the importance of fathers, badgered Michele Bachmann on Tuesday with combative questions and forced her to respond to charges of constantly making "false statements."
Stephanopoulos, a former Democratic operative and Bill Clinton staffer, tried to make trouble for Bachmann and possible rival Sarah Palin. He baited, "Do you think Sarah Palin is trying to rain on your parade by coming to Iowa today?"
The ABC anchor wielded the journalism website Politifact as a club, lecturing, "But, as you make progress in this campaign, everything you say is going to get more scrutiny. And the Pulitzer Prize-winning website Politifact has said you have the worst record of making false statements of any of the leading contenders."
The GMA host brought up Bachmann's claim that the Founding Fathers "worked tirelessly" to end slavery, disputing, "Now, with respect, Congresswoman, that's just not true. Many of them, including Jefferson and Washington, were actually slave holders. And slavery didn't end until the Civil War."
Yet, in a September of 2008 interview, Stephanopoulos was eager to do damage control for then-Senator Obama. After the presidential candidate asserted that "John McCain has not talked about my Muslim faith," Stephanopoulos jumped in to help, "Your Christian faith."
Obama was attempting to make a clarifying statement, pointing out McCain had never suggested he was a Muslim. So, the error was in Stephanopoulos' misinterpretation. But even this prompted the journalist to attempt to clear things up.
Stephanopoulos has previously interviewed Bachmann Good Morning America, forcing the Republican to gaze at Obama's birth certificate and to declare that the President is a Christian.
On June 17, Robin Roberts interviewed Barack Obama for 15 minutes about the importance of fathers. Avoiding tough questions, she turned to sports celebrities such as Drew Brees for queries.
A transcript of the June 28 segment, which aired at 7:08am EDT, follows:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: So, Sarah Palin in Iowa. President Obama in Iowa. One step ahead of them, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. She made it official in Iowa yesterday. This morning, she is in New Hampshire. Thanks for joining us, Congresswoman.
ABC GRAPHIC: Tea Party Favorite Joins Race: Bachmann at Top of Polls
MICHELE BACHMANN: Thank you, George. Great to be with you this morning.
STEPHANOPOULOS: In your announcement speech yesterday, you said "my voice is part of a movement to take back our country." From whom?
BACHMANN: Well, from the people all across the nation. The voice that I learned growing up in Iowa was a very reasonable, common-sense voice. And that's one I learned and taken successfully to the halls of Congress. And now, I want to take that to the White house.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You have been making a lot of progress. Also getting a lot of scrutiny. I'm going to not get too deep into the flake flap from Sunday. But, as you make progress in this campaign, everything you say is going to get more scrutiny. And the Pulitzer Prize-winning website Politifact has said you have the worst record of making false statements of any of the leading contenders. And I wondered if you want to take a second to clear up some of your past statements.
For example, earlier this year, you said that the Founding Fathers who wrote the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence worked tirelessly to end slavery. Now, with respect, Congresswoman, that's just not true. Many of them, including Jefferson and Washington, were actually slave holders. And slavery didn't end until the Civil War.
BACHMANN: Well, you know what's marvelous, is in this country, under our Constitution, we have the ability when we recognize that something is wrong, to change it. And that's what we did in our country. We changed it. We no longer have slavery. That's a good thing. And what our Constitution has done for our nation is to give us a basis of freedom, unparalleled in the rest of the world. That's what people want to do because they realize-
STEPHANOPOULOS: I agree with that, Congresswoman, but-
BACHMANN: -that our government is taking away their freedoms.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But, that's not what you said. You said that the Founding Fathers worked tirelessly to end slavery.
BACHMANN: Well, if you look at one of our Founding Fathers, John Quincy Adams, that's absolutely true. He was a young boy, when he was with his father, serving, essentially, as his father's secretary. He tirelessly worked throughout his life to make sure that we did, in fact, one day, eradicate slavery.
STEPHANOPOULOS: [Incredulous] He wasn't one of the Founding Fathers. He was- He was a President. He was a secretary of state. And a member of Congress, you're right. He did work to end slavery, decades later. Bu, so, you're standing by this comment that the Founding Fathers worked tirelessly to end slavery?
BACHMANN: Well, John Quincy Adams most certainly was a part of the Revolutionary War era. He was a young boy, but he was actively involved.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, let me move on to another one of your statements, on the issue of jobs, which is so central to this campaign. You said back in 2005, that taking away the minimum wage could potentially, virtually, wipe out unemployment. Where is the evidence for that?
BACHMANN: People are very upset that the President has us at 9.1 percent unemployment. That is not acceptable. We lost millions of jobs. People are suffering right now. They're hurting. And I feel their pain. And I want to make sure what we do going forward is actually to address this and turn the economy around.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me try one more time. So, you're saying that the minimum wage is one of the regulations you'd take a a look at? You'd try to eliminate it?
BACHMANN: Well, what I'm saying is that I think we need to lock at all regulations. Whatever ones are inhibiting job growth, that's what we need-
STEPHANOPOULOS: And the minimum wage is one of them?
BACHMANN: All regulations, George. I think every department. We have too much expansion of government. What we need to do is tamp that down so that the American people can keep more of what they make.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Just a couple more questions. Do you think Sarah Palin is trying to rain on your parade by coming to Iowa today?
BACHMANN: You know, I think that it's wonderful that the Governor is coming to Iowa. I think they'll enjoy her. She'll certainly enjoy them. People in Iowa are just such wonderful, transparent people. And it's their values and their character, and their morals that they poured into me as I was growing up there as a little girl. That's the voice I want to take the White House.
STEPHANOPOULOS: One more question. I think one of the most impressive things that people are impressed with in your background is that you and your husband have raised 23 foster children. And I know you want to shield them, but are they prepared? And are you prepared for the loss of privacy that comes with a presidential campaign? And is that something you're concerned about for them?
BACHMANN: When we were making this momentous decision, we sat down for a long time a as a family and contemplated what this would mean. And, yes, we are ready. We have five, wonderful biological children. Our last one is off to college. Our oldest one is a doctor. And then we have great 23 foster children in our home, as well. We are so thankful that we have them. But we want to observe their privacy and that of their families.