2012 Tuesday: Can Bachmann play offense as well as defense?

Rick Perry’s entry into the 2012 presidential race has taken some of the wind out of Michele Bachmann’s sails right when she should have been picking up speed after her victory in Ames Straw Poll and the departure of fellow Minnesotan Tim Pawlenty, whose candidacy’s demise she helped to hasten.

That’s in part because Perry has some of the same appeal Bachmann does as a social conservative and as a forceful speaker about conservative ideals. But it’s also because, while Perry can point to a decade-plus track record as governor’s of the nation’s second-largest state, Bachmann is more defined by what she’s opposed in her four-plus years in Congress.

Obamacare, the bailouts, the debt-ceiling increase: Bachmann opposed them all. But as Pawlenty tried to point out, she didn’t bring down any of those measures, much less lead the charge on measures she did want Congress to pass. No doubt, other candidates will pick up that argument against her.

In the debates and the campaign more generally, Bachmann has gotten the most traction when she’s been on defense. Her skirmishes with Pawlenty tended to follow a pattern: He leveled a criticism at her, and she came back swinging at him. When, as in last Thursday’s nationally televised debate in Iowa, the subject is something as complex and esoteric as a budget bill in Minnesota — and whether Pawlenty as governor or Bachmann as a state legislator was correct about the details — the winner is the one who can communicate the big picture best. On Thursday, that was Bachmann.

Another moment from Thursday also illustrates this: When Bachmann was asked about her past comment that she studied to be a tax lawyer out of “submission” to her husband, her answer (that she believes a wife and husband both should show respect to the other) was good. But it sounded all the better coming after a chorus of boos from debate attendees who disapproved of the question itself.

What Bachmann still has to prove is that she can be just as effective on offense. And by “offense,” I don’t mean criticizing President Obama. I mean pushing the discussion forward by offering solutions other than “hold the line.” Like a lot of candidates at this stage of a presidential primary, Bachmann relies on principles-based statements. For example, from her campaign website’s section about health care: “As President, I will work to unleash the power of medical innovation and personal choices.”

That’s adequate for August 2011. But eventually she’ll have to explain how she would do that. Current or former governors like Perry and Mitt Romney get a bit more benefit of the doubt on that for now, because they have taken action as state executives (though not always in a way that helps them, as with Romney and his health reform in Massachusetts).

That Bachmann is in the conversation with Perry and Romney right now — having surpassed the likes of Pawlenty and Newt Gingrich — speaks highly of her political acumen. But that alone won’t put her in the nomination-acceptance slot at the Tampa GOP Convention next summer.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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222 comments Add your comment

carlosgvv

August 16th, 2011
11:21 am

About the only thing we can be certain of is that the upcoming political debates and TV commercials will be a knock-down drag-out mud-slinging free-for-all. I know there must be better, more grown-up ways to pick the next President.

wayne

August 16th, 2011
11:25 am

Well, I had lunch with God the other day and he was a bit pissed off at Perry and Bachmann. He told me his son was pissed off because they were trying to get him involved in politics and we all know what happened the last time Jesus protested the Romans.Nor did he appreciate all that quoting from the Bible (He denies having anything to do with it) and all those people telling others what he thinks and meant. He said they’re full of BS. Finally, he tols me that Jesus was pissed because they were trying to cloak him in the US Constitution, which he feels is fine just the way it is. He grumbled something about sending the SOB’s a drought to tell them to lay off misrepresenting him. I picked up the tab.

The Devil

August 16th, 2011
11:32 am

Ha-ha! Good one Wayne. See you soon…bring sunscreen.

Derek Wain

August 16th, 2011
11:45 am

Bachmann triumphed over Perry in Waterloo. He was stupid to challenge her in her territory. When it was all over, two standing ovations later, a 100-year-old Republican mother named Mary had come home with the biggest, baddest, deepest apple pie in Waterloo and the audience that had been so smitten with Perry moments earlier was reminded of what had made Bachmann such a political force in the first place. http://motherjones.com/mojo/2011/08/michele-bachmann-superstar-celebrity

At the Ames Iowa debate, Congresswoman Bachmann remained the little lady with a spine of titanium, whose unshakable principles protected her against the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. The hostile media has done its utmost to bring her down, but to no avail. She has emerged unscathed, smiling triumphantly, seemingly frail but in fact fearless, with an almost martial strength, so that she is now a match for all her political foes–on the Right as well as on the Left.

Kyle Wingfield

August 16th, 2011
11:54 am

Derek: Did Newt’s ex-spokesman write that for you?

Btw, someone else had the exact opposite reaction to the crowd’s reaction in Waterloo: http://hotair.com/archives/2011/08/14/wrap-up-from-waterloo-perry-embraced-bachmann-falls-a-little-flat/

As far as I know, Ed Morrissey doesn’t favor Perry or Bachmann over the other.

saywhat?

August 16th, 2011
11:57 am

Ther are no concerns from me about Bachmann’s ability to be offensive. She’s a natural.

Kyle Wingfield

August 16th, 2011
11:59 am

saywhat: I should have seen that one coming…

Jimmy62

August 16th, 2011
12:06 pm

Carlosgv: And most of the mud will be coming from the left and the press. The right doesn’t have to sling much mud, Obama’s record speaks for itself.

carlosgvv

August 16th, 2011
12:23 pm

Jimmy62

I can absolutely positively guarentee that the right will be slinging every bit as much, if not more, mud is this circus we call a nomination.

retired early

August 16th, 2011
12:25 pm

Bachmann believes any that all laws should be in compliance with the Bible. That those that are not should be changed…including the U S Constitution .She also believes that anyone that disagrees with her is wrong…period…there is no room for debate.
Why in the world, would you supporters want someone in charge who’s sole agenda is to “change laws” to reflect her fundamentalist christian views. So much for separation of church and state…one of her top priorities to overturn, should she miraculously become president.
She is what I call “walking around crazy”. She should not be in any serious conversation with “President”, in the same sentence.

Aquagirl

August 16th, 2011
12:27 pm

Derek: Did Newt’s ex-spokesman write that for you?

Kyle wins the internets for the day.

USMC

August 16th, 2011
12:29 pm

Michele Bachmann would make a MUCH better President than the “Marxist” DOPE we have in the Whitehouse currently.

I think she will be a formidable candidate. She is a strong woman.

Obama is DONE in 2012!!!!!!!!!!!!!!…. tick tock, tick tock, tick tock, tick tock…

USMC

August 16th, 2011
12:32 pm

“I can absolutely positively guarentee that the right will be slinging every bit as much, if not more, mud is this circus we call a nomination.”–CarlosMgGee

No way Carlos. You Marxists have no morals and there is no limit to the DIRTY tricks and corruption that Democrats use in Politics.

shawny

August 16th, 2011
12:36 pm

Ron Paul, 2012

USMC

August 16th, 2011
12:37 pm

retired Early @12:25

Sounds like Retired Early is “ANTI-women”(misogynist)… What’s the matter? Afraid of a strong woman???

Isn’t that how you guys do it???

midtown123

August 16th, 2011
12:42 pm

@USMC Do you even know how to define Marxist? I’m not saying the dems don’t sling mud, but the GOP does it just as well. Most of the government officials in Washington need to be fired so that the country can slowly start to recover from being violted that past 10+ years.

UGA 1999

August 16th, 2011
12:47 pm

Honestly it is not going to matter. Bachmann is not really electable. It will either be Romney or Perry.

ByteMe

August 16th, 2011
12:49 pm

It’s all moot anyway. Perry — the latest GOP field messiah — is heading for a flame-out. You can’t just jump into the middle of a heated race for a national office and expect to be ready to properly conduct your campaign. See Palin, Sarah, 2008.

There’s a reason that people spend a lot of time prepping for the campaign. It’s HARD to connect to evangelicals in Iowa and Rockefeller Republicans in New Hampshire at the same time. Try to do that while thinking up a clear platform at the same time AND giving stump speeches that the press is repeating breathlessly… well, good luck with that.

USMC

August 16th, 2011
12:50 pm

Yeah Midtown, I agree with you to a point; politicians sling mud. But my opinion from experience is that Democrats are FAR dirtier.
And yes, I do know how to define Marxist. To start with, a Marxist believes in “spreading the wealth”, which mostly means redistributing OTHER peoples’ hard earned money and possessions. Also, Marxists believe in Class Warfare. You know those “Millionaires and Billionaires” and their private jets????
And which Party is “selling” that failed Philosophy these days??? That’s right… Comrade Obama and the Democrat Party.

UGA 1999

August 16th, 2011
12:52 pm

There is NO way Obama would beat either Romney or Perry in a general election. One term and done….thank God.

Darwin

August 16th, 2011
12:52 pm

It’s only socialism when somebody else gets the benefits.

retired early

August 16th, 2011
12:53 pm

USMC

No, I am not “anti-women”, I married one.
The best “present” you GOP’ers could do for Obama, is to nominate EITHER Bachmann or Perry.
Hmmm, I think I might just vote in GOP primary this year….

USMC

August 16th, 2011
12:55 pm

“It’s all moot anyway. Perry — the latest GOP field messiah — is heading for a flame-out. You can’t just jump into the middle of a heated race for a national office and expect to be ready to properly conduct your campaign. See Palin, Sarah, 2008.”Byteme

Lousy analogy. Not even close.
While he might not win the Republican nomination, Rick Perry will be a force to reckon with. He has plenty of time to campaign for President.

UGA 1999

August 16th, 2011
12:55 pm

Retired….so you are saying that you would rather have Obama in office instead of Perry or Bachmann? Please tell us why?

[...] Tuesday: Can Michele Bachmann play offense as well as defense? 2012 Tuesday: Can Bachmann play offense as well as defense? | Kyle Wingfield [...]

retired early

August 16th, 2011
12:57 pm

USMC

…and PLEASE stop with the “Marxist” trash talk, it just lets these rest of us know your are “Rushie”…because that’s the only one making up that trash.

UGA 1999

August 16th, 2011
12:58 pm

Retired….what is wrong with calling a spade a spade?

Sean Smith

August 16th, 2011
1:01 pm

Bachman candidacy will crumble when her husband is proven to be a closeted gay. That man is as queer as a 3 dollar bill. You don’t need gaydar to see that.

old timer

August 16th, 2011
1:02 pm

Bachman as the republican candidate will give the race to Obama. Perry has much experience in the executive arena.

retired early

August 16th, 2011
1:02 pm

UGA1999

Because he is by far, more intelligent, caring and capable than your choices to lead this country and if you can’t see that….well, I, nor anyone else can’t change your mind.

UGA 1999

August 16th, 2011
1:02 pm

Sean…..classy post….nice job.

UGA 1999

August 16th, 2011
1:04 pm

Retired…..really??? Hmmm lets see. unemployment still hovering around 9% and growing. Approval rating near 40%. Credit rating decline for the first time in US history. Passed an ILLEGAL healthcare plan this is costing us billions. Proactively attack Libya. Lets see what else am I missing?

USMC

August 16th, 2011
1:04 pm

“No, I am not “anti-women”, I married one.
The best “present” you GOP’ers could do for Obama, is to nominate EITHER Bachmann or Perry.
Hmmm, I think I might just vote in GOP primary this year….”-Early Retired

I was being facetious, Early. I am sure you are NOT anti-woman.
But that is the usual drivel from Democrats if a Liberal/Marxist woman is criticized.

But seriously ANY of the three candidates, Bachmann, Perry, or Romney, would be a monumental improvement to what we have as a President. Obama was NOT qualified and the Media looked the other way and did not vet him.
Obama is in WAY over his head and his MARXIST philosophies and LACK of any kind of detailed plans to get our country back on track will be his downfall.

Bradley

August 16th, 2011
1:09 pm

USMC, you are a brainwashed right wing loon spouting the same drivel other loons have already said a million times over…get new material, please. I’ll bet you were one of the folks making a stink over President Obama’s birth certificate as well. Typical rubbish…

USMC

August 16th, 2011
1:09 pm

“…and PLEASE stop with the “Marxist” trash talk, it just lets these rest of us know your are “Rushie”…because that’s the only one making up that trash.”–Retired Early

NO! You and your Obamamaniacs are following this guy who IS a Marxist. And your Redistribution and Wealth envy tactics come STRAIGHT from the COMMUNIST MANIFESTO, written by Karl MARX.

Get real Lad!

USMC

August 16th, 2011
1:10 pm

“Bachman candidacy will crumble when her husband is proven to be a closeted gay. That man is as queer as a 3 dollar bill. You don’t need gaydar to see that.”-Sean

You aren’t discriminating against gay men are you Sean???

UGA 1999

August 16th, 2011
1:10 pm

Bradley…..”brainwashed right wing loon”?? Now THAT is an intelligent comment coming from the left. Great way to really debate the issues! Nice job haha.

John Radney

August 16th, 2011
1:10 pm

I will vote for Porky Pig before I’ll vote for the muslim.

Disappointed

August 16th, 2011
1:12 pm

When I read this article and I read these comments, I am disappointed. I am sad that my countrymen are so misinformed as to think that our president is a “Marxist” or a “communist.” I am sad that Fox News is the most popular source of news and opinion in the country. I am sad that the Republican party has become a caricature of itself, catering to the mistaken, the angry, the fearful. I am sad that my country is devolving at a time when the world needs it most. I am sad that Michelle Bachmann is somehow considered a viable candidate for the most important office in the world. Our republic is crumbling and the masses howl for corporate tax breaks, hoping against hope that if we show fealty to the corporations that they will shower all of us with jobs and six-figure incomes. They scream that the lazy blacks and the illegal Mexicans are to blame, but they know it isn’t true. We are all to blame. We were not vigilant, and we were not aware. We’ve binged on entertainment for 25 years, rather than putting in the time and effort to move the country forward. We didn’t pay attention to history – ours or anyone else’s. I fear that it’s too late to save the middle class, and the middle class is the foundation of that vision of America that you purport so desperately to want a return to. So vote for Michelle Bachmann, or Rick Perry, or Ron Paul if you think they’ll get you there. It’s a dishonest thing, though. The only way to save this country is the bitter pill of shared sacrifice, and Obama happens to be the only one willing to say that. You hate him for it, for being right, and for being smug while he’s being right. And for looking different than you, and going to fancy schools, and having a ton of money. You’re willing to overlook the same facts about the Republican candidates. Why? They don’t care about you – neither does Barack Obama, but at least he’s fighting for your interests.

UGA 1999

August 16th, 2011
1:12 pm

He would do a better job!

USMC

August 16th, 2011
1:13 pm

“Because he is by far, more intelligent, caring and capable than your choices to lead this country and if you can’t see that….well, I, nor anyone else can’t change your mind.”-Retired Early

More evidence that our country has been “DUMBED DOWN” to the point of ridiculous!

UGA 1999

August 16th, 2011
1:14 pm

Disappointed….if you are so upset there are many other countries that you could move to. Have fun.

the bible says, blech....

August 16th, 2011
1:15 pm

bachmann’s beard will be her undoing

Alabama Communist

August 16th, 2011
1:15 pm

More Breaking News On Bachmann Play Book…A Spokensperson for the NFL said today that playbook was stolen from the Dallas Cowboys and that owner Jerry Jones and Governor Rick Perry were offering a 5 million dollar reward..Owner Jerry Jones said ” that was some very high security plays that we had plan on using this year , where our wideout reciver, the Republican Jesus would dash to the inside post and circle back under the red zone and tap dance his way to a Republican Paradise” He also said ” That Governor Perry will join the Dallas Cowgirls cheerleaders to complete with Congresswoman Bachmann Husband Marus as the Queen of the Minnsota Viking cheerleading corp.”

UGA 1999

August 16th, 2011
1:16 pm

Bible…..that is fine….Obama’s failed policies will be his undoing! Thank God.

Bradley

August 16th, 2011
1:16 pm

UGA 1999, I call it like I see it. He’s referring to Communist manifestos and calling ppl Obamamaniacs, is that debating issues? He’s a loon.

UGA 1999

August 16th, 2011
1:17 pm

Bible….Obama’s failed policies will be his undoing…..

USMC

August 16th, 2011
1:18 pm

Dissappointed @1:12

Have you ever read The Communist Manifesto written by Karl Marx??? Obama parrots the philosophy of Marx: “Spread the Wealth, Fair Share, Government control/ownership, Wealth envy” ETC! Read the book yourself before you look down your nose and open your suck.

Be disappointed in yourself for not having the Intellectual HONESTY(and BALLS) to acknowledge the truth. You can get away with that garbage over on COMRADE Bookman’s blog but not out in the REAL world.

UGA 1999

August 16th, 2011
1:18 pm

Bradley….Do you not feel that Obama has Marxist tendancies? Do you feel Obama has done a satisfactory job in the past two years? Yes, there are Obamamaniacs….they will vote for him no matter how bad his policies prove to be. Loon? no?

Bradley

August 16th, 2011
1:20 pm

Disappointed @1:12pm, You are 100% correct. Not sure why it’s so hard for others to see.