WASHINGTON--In a matter of minutes, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) in an interview with Chris Matthews on MSNBC's "Hardball" has gone where no other Republican has --mentioning Barack Obama and Tony Rezko, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Rev. Michael Pfleger, Bill Ayers and Saul Alinsky. Bachmann called for the media to probe members of Congress to determine who held "anti-American" views.
Transcript courtesy Federal News Service
MSNBC "HARDBALL WITH CHRIS MATTHEWS" INTERVIEW WITH REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN) INTERVIEWER: CHRIS MATTHEWS
5:02 P.M. EDT, FRIDAY, OCTOBER 17, 2008
MR. MATTHEWS: Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann from Minnesota joins us right now.
Congresswoman, thank you very much for joining us. I want you to look at something from David Letterman last night. It concerned, well, Governor Palin's comments about Barack Obama.
(Begin videotaped segment.)
DAVID LETTERMAN: I think she's the one who says that Barack Obama pals around with terrorists. Has she, in fact, said that at rallies and stuff?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ, Republican presidential nominee): I don't -- yes. And he did.
(End videotaped segment.)
MR. MATTHEWS: Well, let's take a look now, Congresswoman, at the radio tape message that's going in a number of states right now, being put out by the Republicans and the John McCain campaign. It's called a robo call. You just pick up the phone and you hear this recording.
ANNOUNCER: (From audiotape.) Hello. I'm calling for John McCain and the RNC because you need to know that Barack Obama has worked closely with domestic terrorist Bill Ayers, whose organization bombed the U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon, a judge's home, and killed Americans. And Democrats will enact an extreme leftist agenda if they take control of Washington. Barack Obama and his Democratic allies lack the judgment to lead our country. This call was paid for by McCain-Palin 2008 and the Republican National Committee.
MR. MATTHEWS: Well, what do you make of that, Congresswoman, that what's called a robo call and what Senator McCain said last night on Letterman?
REP. BACHMANN: Well, I think it's fun to have a sense of humor right now. And especially last night on Letterman, I thought that John McCain was extremely funny.
As far as the robo calls go, I think that the Obama campaign is very worried, because Americans are just now starting to find out about Bill Ayers and about the questionable connection that Obama has with Bill Ayers. These are legitimate questions. And I think the Obama campaign has a right to be worried, because they don't want the American people to know about these connections.
MR. MATTHEWS: Let me talk to you. What do the connections mean to you, this connection you're talking about between the Democratic candidate for president and his connection back in the '90s with Bill Ayers, who was involved with the Weathermen group back in the '60s and early '70s, when he was eight years old? What is your concern about that?
REP. BACHMANN: I think it's devastating, because this is an unrepentant terrorist who says he wishes he would have bombed more people. Remember, this is a man who bombed the Pentagon and was happy to be bombing Americans as well. This is not a person that the president of the United States would want to be associated with.
Had John McCain been associated with Bill Ayers, it would have been a nightly story. It would have been everywhere. But the media's been kind of avoiding this story, and Barack Obama's been avoiding it too. He actually did start his state senate campaign in Bill Ayers' home, and Obama worked very closely with him on education matters -- very liberal, leftist agenda of education matters as well.
I think that it's important that the American people know that Barack Obama didn't have a mild association with Bill Ayers. He had a very strong association with Bill Ayers. Bill Ayers is not someone that the average American wants to see their president have an association with.
MR. MATTHEWS: Why is it of concern? What is wrong with it? Tell me what it tells you about Barack Obama. Does it say he's got a character problem? Does it say he has a problem with his patriotism? Just give me a term for it so we can put it in a category. Why do you care enough to bring this up at the end of this campaign? Why is it an important election eve issue?
REP. BACHMANN: I think it's important, Chris, because --
MR. MATTHEWS: I mean, we've got a lot of problems in this country. Why is this so important that it's being pushed out on telephone calls to all the key states now with two weeks to go?
REP. BACHMANN: It's important because we look at the collection of friends that Barack Obama has had over his life, and usually we associate with people who have similar ideas to us. And it seems that it calls into question what Barack Obama's true beliefs and values and thoughts are -- his attitudes, values and beliefs with Jeremiah Wright on his view of the United States --
MR. MATTHEWS: Okay --
REP. BACHMANN: -- which is negative; Bill Ayers, his negative view of the United States. We've seen one friend after another. It calls into question his judgment, but also what is it that Barack Obama really believes? And we know that he's the most liberal senator in the United States Senate, and that's just after one year after being there. He's the most liberal. Joe Biden is the third most liberal. You've got Harry Reid who's liberal, Nancy Pelosi who's liberal.
MR. MATTHEWS: Right. What's the connection?
REP. BACHMANN: You have a troika of the most leftist administration in the history of our country.
MR. MATTHEWS: If you have liberal views, does that mean you have anti-American views? What's the connection? I don't get the connection. What's the connection between liberal and leftist and anti-American?
REP. BACHMANN: Anti-American is the point, because --
MR. MATTHEWS: I mean, if you're liberal, are you anti-American?
REP. BACHMANN: Well, the liberals that are Jeremiah Wright and that are Bill Ayers, they're over-the-top anti-American. And that's the question that Americans have. Remember, it was Michelle Obama who said she's only recently proud of her country. And so these are very anti-American views.
MR. MATTHEWS: Okay.
REP. BACHMANN: That's not the way that most Americans feel about our country. Most Americans, Chris, are wild about America, and they're very concerned to have a president who doesn't share those values.
MR. MATTHEWS: Okay, let's take a look at Governor Palin, because she said something very much like what you just said. Let's hear Governor Palin on the very same topic of the connection between Barack Obama and Bill Ayers and what that tells you about his view of America. Let's hear.
ALASKA GOVERNOR SARAH PALIN (Republican vice presidential nominee): (From videotape.) Our opponent is someone who sees America as imperfect enough to pal around with terrorists who targeted their own country? (Chorus of boos.)
MR. MATTHEWS: So you think that's a fair critique of Barack Obama, that his view of America is so -- that America is so imperfect that he pals around with terrorists. You think that's a fair comment.
REP. BACHMANN: It's a fair comment, because Barack Obama does have a close association with Bill Ayers. It's one that the American people have a right to have some answers to. And Barack Obama still hasn't come clean on his relationship with Bill Ayers. It's been under the radar, and only recently has it been coming out. And people need to know.
MR. MATTHEWS: So this is a character issue. You believe that Barack Obama may -- you're suspicious because of this relationship -- may have anti-American views. Otherwise it's probably irrelevant to this discussion.
REP. BACHMANN: Absolutely.
MR. MATTHEWS: So you believe it brings into --
REP. BACHMANN: I absolutely --
MR. MATTHEWS: So you believe that Barack Obama may have anti- American views.
REP. BACHMANN: Absolutely. I'm very concerned that he may have anti-American views. That's what the American people are concerned about. That's why they want to know what his answers are. That's why Joe the plumber has figured so highly in the last few days --
MR. MATTHEWS: Okay. I'm not going to get off this.
REP. BACHMANN: -- because Joe the plumber asked a question that a lot of Americans want to know.
MR. MATTHEWS: Sarah Palin was around today talking about pro- American parts of America, and assuming there's other non-parts of the country. What parts of America would you say are anti-American? What parts of this country?
REP. BACHMANN: Well, I would say that people who hold anti- American views. I don't think it's geography. I think it's people who don't like America, who detest America. And on college campuses, a Ward Churchill, another college campus, a Bill Ayers, you find people who hate America. And unfortunately, some of these people have positions teaching in institutions of higher learning. But you'll find them in all walks of life all throughout America.
MR. MATTHEWS: What about people like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, the liberals you were mentioning a moment ago? Where would you put them? Would you consider them anti-American as well?
REP. BACHMANN: I would consider them to have --
MR. MATTHEWS: Are they anti-American?
REP. BACHMANN: -- far leftist views. I'm not going to say that they're anti-American or pro-American.
MR. MATTHEWS: The speaker of the House is --
REP. BACHMANN: I will say the speaker --
MR. MATTHEWS: Well, you were putting them together. You put three words together -- liberal, leftist and anti-American. How do they all fit together, those three terms -- liberal, leftist and anti- American?
REP. BACHMANN: Well, that's a good descriptor for Jeremiah Wright. It's a perfect descriptor for Bill Ayers. And those are friends and people that Obama has pointed to as his mentors. In his book, Barack Obama had pointed to Jeremiah Wright as one of his mentors, and also Father Pfleger as one of his mentors. Two of the three mentors are Father Pfleger and Jeremiah Wright. Now, these are very strange, anti-American mentors.
MR. MATTHEWS: Right. This --
REP. BACHMANN: If people like that were John McCain's mentors, you'd be all over John McCain.
MR. MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you this. This country is roughly divided now over the last -- all our lifetimes between Republicans and Democrats and liberals and conservatives. Maybe 30 percent of the country, 30 to 40 percent, is conservative, and self- described -- people tell you what they are -- and 30-some percent are liberals. Do you think those 30 percent liberals are anti-American? The 30 percent of this country that calls itself liberals, are they anti-American?
REP. BACHMANN: I think the people that Barack Obama has been associating with are anti-American, by and large, the people who are radical leftists. That's the real question about Barack Obama -- Saul Alinsky, one of his teachers, you might say, out of the Chicago area; Tony Rezko, who is an associate also.
MR. MATTHEWS: He's a leftist? I thought he was a business guy.
REP. BACHMANN: These are very concerning figures that are in Barack Obama's past.
MR. MATTHEWS: I thought Tony Rezko was some business guy. I didn't know he was a leftist, anti-American guy.
REP. BACHMANN: Yeah, that's troubling too. Well, that's troubling too. Take a look at these associations, Chris, and add them all up --
MR. MATTHEWS: Well, let me --
REP. BACHMANN: -- and this is the totality of the package that Barack Obama has been, in Sarah Palin's words, palling around with. These are his friends. These are his associates. Very troubling.
MR. MATTHEWS: How many Congress people, members of Congress, do you think are in that anti-American crowd you described? How many Congress people do you serve with? I mean, it's 435 members of Congress.
REP. BACHMANN: Right now --
MR. MATTHEWS: How many are anti-American in the Congress right now that you serve with?
REP. BACHMANN: You'd have to ask them, Chris. I'm focusing on Barack Obama and the people that he's been associating with. And I'm very worried about --
MR. MATTHEWS: But do you suspect that a lot of people you serve with --
REP. BACHMANN: -- their anti-American nature.
MR. MATTHEWS: Well, he's a United States senator from Illinois. He's one of the people you suspect as being anti-American. How many people in the Congress of the United States do you think are anti- American? You've already suspected Barack Obama. Is he alone, or are there others? How many do you suspect of your colleagues as being anti-American?
REP. BACHMANN: What I would say -- what I would say is that the news media should do a penetrating expose and take a look. I wish they would. I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out, are they pro-America or anti-America? I think people would love to see an expose like that.
MR. MATTHEWS: Okay, thank you very much, U.S. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann of Minnesota.