Account: Bachmann bodyguards rough up reporter, campaign gives its story
July 19th, 2011
06:26 PM ET
7 years ago

Account: Bachmann bodyguards rough up reporter, campaign gives its story

Washington (CNN) – Rep. Michele Bachmann's campaign is giving its version of what happened at a campaign appearance on Tuesday amid claims that two Bachmann bodyguards "manhandled" a reporter who was trying to question the presidential candidate.

At issue is an altercation involving the Minnesota Republican and ABC News investigative reporter Brian Ross at a campaign stop in Aiken, South Carolina.

"It didn't happen the way Brian [Ross] is describing it," Bachmann press secretary Alice Stewart told CNN. "He was repeatedly asked by our security people to stay off the stage and he jumped up on there anyway."

Bachmann was on stage for a political event and afterwards, she responded to a report that she has debilitating migraine headaches. A report in the Daily Caller earlier Tuesday was headlined, "Stress-related condition 'incapacitates' Bachmann; heavy pill use alleged."

"I'm prescribed medication that I take on occasion whenever symptoms arise and they keep my migraines under control," Bachmann said in response. "But I'd like to be abundantly clear, my ability to function effectively … will not affect my ability to serve as commander in chief."

Ross was at the event apparently to ask the Minnesota congresswoman if she'd ever missed a House vote because of migraine headaches.

After Bachmann made her statement, she began to leave the stage without taking reporter questions. Time correspondent Michael Crowley described to CNN's Lisa Sylvester a dramatic account of what happened next.

"As soon as she finished the statement, they turned the PA system on really loud with the music playing so loud that it was really hard to even try to ask her a question if you wanted to," Crowley said. "But Brian [Ross], you know, started asking, you know, in a kind of dogged voice, 'Have you ever missed a house vote because of your migraine – have you ever missed a roll call vote.' And she ignored him and walked away quickly."

Crowley continued: "Brian started to chase after her, you know, just repeating the question the way a reporter does … but there was nothing particularly unusual about it. And then at one point, she kind of went behind the stage she was on – her car was parked there – and Brian sort of went around behind the stage as well."

Then the account turns especially dramatic: "A couple of guys really just came at him [Brian Ross]," Crowley said. "There were a few cops there and there were what looked to me like two bodyguards…and their hands were on him. They were…sort of manhandling and pushing him and you know at one point it looked like they were kind of holding him back, pulling him away from her as he was just trying to ask her this question. And she just ignored the question…And got in her car and drove away."

ABC News confirmed to CNN Crowley's account.

Bachmann's campaign described the situation differently.

"We were on a tight timeframe to get her back to [Washington] D.C. for an important vote on Cut, Cap and Balance," Stewart told CNN. "We were on a beeline to the car. And he [Brian Ross] jumped up on stage. We repeatedly told him not to do it. And he did it. And then he ran around a group of people – just repeatedly disregarded our request for him to stay back so she could get in the car and go to D.C."

Stewart did not address the specific account that two Bachmann bodyguards roughed up Ross – or address the question of whether or not Bachmann missed any House votes due to migraines.

"That's all I'm going to say," Stewart said.

Follow Shannon Travis on Twitter: @ShanTravisCNN

Filed under: 2012 • Michele Bachmann
soundoff (82 Responses)
  1. IgotaHeadacheToo

    I wish Michele Bachmann & Sarah Palin would just move to Canada and start up a Canadian TV Reality Show. "How to take pills for your ills while hunting protected species"... Please get the both of them off the cameras. Let's have some real representatives of the Republican party. Oh I forgot, they ARE "the best of the best".

    July 19, 2011 07:15 pm at 7:15 pm |
  2. giff

    Go figure.....she'll never get the nomination, just a "Barbie" palin wannabe.

    July 19, 2011 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  3. Indy

    And all of this could have been avoided if Bachmann would have answered yes or no. One second of her time is all that was asked but in true Bachmann, Palin, Angle style she ignored a simple question.

    July 19, 2011 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  4. D-Nice

    These days gotcha questions will be met with a beatdown, call it the Palin effect.

    July 19, 2011 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  5. 2tor

    I've missed a few days of work in my life, due to a bad headache. This is absurd, and hypocritical.

    July 19, 2011 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  6. Jennifer

    Reporters feel they can get away with anything – watch and see what happens if a reporter tries this at an Obama press conference.

    July 19, 2011 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  7. Ringo

    OK, so she can't handle tough questions . . . big surprise. She has a snow ball's chance in hell anyways.

    July 19, 2011 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  8. Mike

    Shades of the GWB rallies. I guess that's how they roll. Jackboots and all.

    July 19, 2011 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  9. Four and The Door

    In both accounts, it seems like he was going out of his way to be a jerk. Is that how he does his job? I would expect better from someone with his experience. In any event, I am glad she has capable support. She should be able to move about her business without having to fear every jerk coming around the next corner.

    July 19, 2011 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  10. suesmilikis

    Ms. Bachmann, Your BRAIN is what will affect your ability to serve as commander in chief. End of story!!!!!!

    July 19, 2011 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  11. Jason

    Reminds me of the guards for that Joe Miller idiot. People would do well to just accept the 1st amendment as a fact of life.

    July 19, 2011 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  12. Matthew

    He acted like papparazzi and got treated as such.

    July 19, 2011 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  13. Republican Robber Baron

    First Bachmann pirates music for her campaign without even getting permission from the her Bodyguard thugs basically assault a member of the media. Nice ...

    July 19, 2011 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  14. katiecat

    Well.....tha'ts all is over....take your migraines, meds and go away.....don't fight'll get another migraine....can't be a president! Oh....gosh I have a headache....hahahaha! Seriously, go home Bachman.....and know Palin camp probably broke that news.... oh golol!

    July 19, 2011 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  15. jimboe

    she has brain damage and is a monster drug addict on top of being a bigot and claims she could be the president of the united states.... BWAHAHAHAHHAHHAHHAH

    July 19, 2011 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  16. DP01

    Sounds to me like she was done speaking, didn't want to answer questions and tried to leave. The reporter didn't like that and continued following her attempting to force an answer to his question. Security finally intervened and the reporter was not happy...thus the manhandling claims. I guess I don't get it...happens all the time.

    July 19, 2011 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  17. David

    Brian should have let them know that he is in the top 2% income bracket. Republicans never rough up the wealthy.

    July 19, 2011 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  18. guest123

    Does the Bachmann camp actually think there were no witnesses or videotape of this dust-up?

    How dare a reporter try to do his job. You know your camp's behavior is just going to intensify the scrutiny of you now, right?

    July 19, 2011 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  19. MC_in_LV

    Maybe Jeebus will miraculously heal her migraines when she becomes president.....BWAAA HAAA HAA HA. Sorry, couldn't keep a straight face there.

    July 19, 2011 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  20. judith

    Bachmann refuses to answer any questions of any relevance and the fact that her security roughed a reporter is no surprise. The right-wing GOP is the party of bullies and this is par for the course.

    July 19, 2011 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  21. Return To Sender

    So Michelle:
    'Have you ever missed a house vote because of your migraine – have you ever missed a roll call vote.?????

    July 19, 2011 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  22. Jose Hearsay

    "Time correspondent Michael Crowley described to CNN's Lisa Sylvester a dramatic account of what happened next." OK, so he was there, but it still makes the whole second half of the story just hearsay. Why can't Brian Ross, the reporter, write his own story, or at least be interviewed? Luckily journalistic standards aren't coming under scrutiny in this country.

    July 19, 2011 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  23. Stephen

    Her medication is prescribed by a doctor so she can't be abusing it. LOL.

    July 19, 2011 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  24. racegirl01

    Way to go Brian, see can't handle pressure and fold like a cheap rug. See Bachmann runn, losing!!!

    July 19, 2011 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  25. joe D'

    Brown Shirts...
    If there IS an issue w/migraines or meds precluding Bachmann making votes and/or performing her job... just be honest about it. No need to rough up the press [especially bodyguards on an older reporter].

    July 19, 2011 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
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