CNN's Candy Crowley Insists to Michele Bachmann That She's 'Outside the Mainstream'

On her Sunday interview show State of the Union, CNN host Candy Crowley pushed Michele Bachmann hard from the left, suggesting her stance on the debt ceiling is "outside the mainstream" of political society. Touting a CBS-New York Times poll which found the Tea Party were losing popularity among Republicans, she added, "we have a poll where the majority of Americans said you all need to compromise on this debt ceiling, you all need to raise the debt ceiling, and it out to be -- the deal ought to include a combination of tax increases and spending cuts. You are opposed to both raising the debt ceiling and that kind of compromise. So doesn't that put you outside the mainstream?"

Bachmann said "absolutely not" to that pushy question: 

BACHMANN: Oh goodness, absolutely not. I haven't gone...

CROWLEY: Even if most people disagree?

BACHMANN: I have not gone one place in Iowa or South Carolina or New Hampshire where anyone has said, please, raise my taxes they are not high enough already. Never happens. And people, I will almost every event I go to, and we don't poll in just certain people, it's open to the public, people are not there saying raise the debt ceiling, we want you to borrow more money. It doesn't happen, Candy.

People are very upset and nervous about where the economy is at now. And what we saw yesterday in the straw poll, people in Iowa sent a message loud and clear to President Obama. They said we are done with your policies. We want something very different, because after all in this debt ceiling debate, this wasn't about default. Remember, the president had no plan. I offered a plan. My plan says we don't default, but what we do is pay the interest on the debt, our military and senior citizens and prioritize our spending. That's what Washington is unwilling to do.

Crowley built up to that point with a series of inquiries about why the Tea Party's popularity is collapsing among Republicans. Bachmann did not point out the obvious media bias in this polling. Was anyone polling the popularity of the Daily Kos/MoveOn/"anti-war" movement on the left in 2004 or 2008? CBS and The New York Times never did! And so it went, with a series of "but, but" questions returning to the poll:

CROWLEY: There was a recent CBS/New York Times poll on the Tea Party. Now this is among Republicans. And it showed that Tea Party favorables in the Republican Party were at 41 percent. So 41 percent of the Republican Party viewed the Tea Party favorably and that is like an 18-point drop since April. Why is that?

BACHMANN: Well, let me tell you what the Tea Party stands for. It stands for the fact that we are taxed enough already. We shouldn't spend more money than we're already taking in. And third we should act within the constitution. That's a pretty mainstream agenda that most Democrats agree with.

CROWLEY: Right, but most -- but Republicans, you saw a 19-point drop. And you know what happened between April and now, it was the debt ceiling fight?

BACHMANN: The debt ceiling fight, but I think -- as a result of this debt ceiling fight, the American people were not with giving the president an additional $2.4 trillion blank check, because after all what did we get in exchange? $21 billion in illusory cuts. That's not really much of a deal.

And when people look at what's happened this last week, we really had a punch in the gut as far as the economy, the loss of the credit rating, what happened on the stock market, people are looking at all of that, Candy, and saying you know maybe all of this deficit spending, which is by an order of magnitude of anything we've ever seen before, this can't continue. And I think people want us to be able to actually start cutting spending, and it hasn't happened yet.

CROWLEY: But still, there is this -- is it a perception problem? I mean, what is wrong here? Because when you drop 18 points -- when a an entity, not you personally, this is the Tea Party, but when an entity drops 18 points in favorability, when the big fight is on, that says to me that something in that movement is turning people off.

BACHMANN: I am not seeing it at all. You know, I can't comment on that poll result because I don't know. But I will tell you when you talk to people about concepts as opposed to a term like the Tea Party, but when you talk to the people about the concepts with the Tea Party stands for, which is really getting your financial house in order, that's basically what the Tea Party is about.

People are there. That's the zone they are in. And so I think what the Tea Party stands for, people are for. So whether it has to do with maligning the Tea Party or not, I don't know.

Crowley began by insisting Bachmann hasn't appealed to moderates, that she's too conservative for a general election. Again, this is not a problem CNN saw for Barack Obama in the last cycle, that he was too frightfully extreme for the general. Crowley asked Bachmann:

I talked to a GOP strategist last night, not yours, who said listen the congresswoman has proven that she's very popular among the conservative wing of the Republican party, but you can't win that way. You can win the nomination, and you certainly can't win the general. What are your credentials to sort of move toward the center, the moderates in the Republican Party and elsewhere because you need those independents?

Later, in the second half of the interview, Crowley turned personal (or turned toward personnel). Expect this question to keep coming up:

CROWLEY: OK. And, finally, more on the personal level. You've had four chiefs of staff and two acting chiefs of staff in less than five years. Why is that?

BACHMANN: I've had wonderful people working for me. We've been a very high profile office. And in Washington, D.C., staff are fairly young and they move up pretty quickly. And staff in our office, because we've been high profile, have been given wonderful job offers in other offices. So I certainly wouldn't want to hold them back from other advances.

CROWLEY: No reflection on you as a boss?

BACHMANN: Well, I have wonderful staff. I have nothing but high praise for them.

This is not a question anyone in the media have asked about Michelle Obama, whose top staff has also rotated noticeably.

Finally, there was this question Crowley asked in the same show to Herman Cain: "There are growing voices in the business community, much of it supportive of the Republican Party policy, saying, we need stimulus, you know, 9.1 percent unemployment, nothing is moving, people are not selling anything because people are not spending anything. So as a businessman, if you were president, isn't it time for some flat-out government -- more government spending on trying to create some jobs to kind of prime the pump?"

Cain rejected the entire question: "No, no, not the business people I am talking to. I don't know who is calling for this. I think that is a misconception."

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis