Bachmann gives students a 101 on issues, then gets lectured
November 17th, 2011
03:49 PM ET
3 years ago

Bachmann gives students a 101 on issues, then gets lectured

Des Moines, Iowa (CNN) - With the air of a college instructor, Michele Bachmann essentially gave college students a Conservative 101 on the economy, national and foreign affairs and other important issues on Thursday in Iowa. But when the Republican presidential candidate took questions, some students turned the tables on their lecturer, peppering her with tough questions.

The Minnesota congresswoman appeared at a town hall at Drake University in Des Moines. Campus Republicans sponsored the event and helped pack the room.

But a few students who support President Barack Obama spotted in the crowd before the event began foretold of tense exchanges ahead. At least two of them sat onstage just inches away from Bachmann - one of them wearing a T-shirt with the president's image.

Throughout her comments, Bachmann tailored her delivery seemingly to suit her young audience.

"How many of you, this will be your very first presidential election to vote in? Let me see your hands," the candidate asked, receiving several raised arms from the students.

"What do you think so far?" Bachmann asked.

Among the replies: "chaotic," "roller coaster" and "circus."

Bachmann proceeded to tackle big issues, frequently explaining them first - not assuming the students were already familiar or understood critical details.

"Have you heard about the super committee?" Bachmann asked. After explaining Congress' role in passing spending bills and recent problems over the negotiations, Bachmann warned that raising taxes could cause another recession.

"In other words, very difficult for job prospects for all of you when you leave Drake," she said.

"We could either have tax increases, which I and a number of my colleagues have pledged we won't raise taxes. The other alternative will be dramatic cuts," Bachmann added.

The candidate specifically criticized the potential for massive cuts to the defense budget.

"We just heard that some of the cuts would mean the military, which just took $400 billion in cuts, would take another $600 billion in cuts," Bachmann said.

"The current Defense Secretary [Leon] Panetta said that would be like taking a bullet to the head."

Bachmann also discussed the national debt.

"Why would you care? Because you're the people that are expected to pay off that debt," she said.

On taxes, Bachmann criticized the number of Americans who don't pay taxes - and referenced the Occupy Wall Street movement.

"Today, 47% of Americans pay zero federal income taxes," Bachmann said. "And the top 1% of income earners in the United States, that you hear so much about with Occupy Wall Street, the top 1% of income earners pay 40% of all the federal income taxes."

"So I want to change the tax code, so that it is fair and so that everybody pays something."

And the congresswoman lectured the students about the work world that lies ahead.

Mentioning her own personal financial struggles, Bachmann said: "It's an animating principle of the United States - it's the fact that nobody owes you a living. Now maybe your parents said that to you."

When Bachmann opened the session to questions, some students asked relatively tame questions on what the U.S. position on Syria should be and where Bachmann stood on campaign finance reform. Some others pounced.

"You used the line of 'bullet to the head' for the American military," one student said.

"Part of the super committee, is that there would be mandatory cuts on either side - on entitlement programs and the military spending aspect of it. I would classify it as a bullet to the American family's head if our entitlement programs in this country were cut drastically," the student added. "For the people who depend on that - that are in an unemployed situation where they need federal aid, they're the most vulnerable."

Bachmann responded by reiterating that the nation is spending too much.

Another student asked: "You said that you wanted to increase offshore drilling and just drilling in general for oil. So that you could decrease the price of oil in the near future. Don't you think that would kind of just be beating a dead horse instead of trying to find a reasonable solution for the long term?"

Bachmann reiterated her stance that the U.S. has tremendous energy resources, "But the problem is, even our own Department of Energy, won't let us access them."

Another student questioned Bachmann on national service programs, such as AmeriCorps: "You've gone on record as opposing those. So just wondering, if elected president, you might make that a part of your agenda? And if you think it's a good idea, during this economy, to take away opportunities for young people to serve their country?"

"Well it isn't the idea of young people not serving their country," Bachmann said. "The point is, we're broke. I don't know if you all have gotten that message yet from me this morning," Bachmann said.

Arguably the most tense exchange came as Bachmann restated her opposition to "Obamacare."

As she criticized specifics of the nation's health care law, one student shouted: "So screw the sick and homeless?"

"Who said that?" Bachmann asked.

"You have," the student said.

"You could not be further from the truth," Bachmann shot back. "You're looking at someone who lived below poverty. Have you ever lived at that?"

Bachmann continued: "I know what I had to do. I got a job. That's what you need to do. You need to figure out how to get a job and make your way."

– Follow Shannon Travis on Twitter: @ShanTravisCNN

Also see:


Perry says 'privileged' Obama can't relate


Santorum: Republicans 'ignore some realities' on economy


Cain: How do you say that in 'Cuban?'


Gingrich faces more questions about Freddie Mac


Filed under: 2012 • Iowa • Michele Bachmann
soundoff (75 Responses)
  1. Liz the First

    Three cheers for these young people who had the guts to stand up to this dipstick. doesn't look like they got anything through her thick head, though. she is a brain-dead idologue and nothing is going to change her opinion on anything. but these young folks give me hope that the rethug party is fast being religated to the dusbin of history, where it belongs!

    November 17, 2011 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  2. Hangar13

    If the student-posed questions quoted in the article are any indication of the audience's level of understanding of issues, she should have dumbed her speech down quite a bit more, perhaps to about the third grade level. Have you had a conversation with a college student or recent graduate lately? Disturbing to say the least.

    November 17, 2011 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  3. DavId Huffine

    Another "no need for government" broadside by Ms. Bachmann, excluding her congressional salary, benefits and future pension...but, of course...

    November 17, 2011 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  4. GL

    No compassion for the poor Michelle.

    November 17, 2011 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  5. Lost in Texas FOREVER AND EVER

    I just enjoy it when people like Bachmann who are gainfully employed and not in fear of losing their job (unless of course the people of Minnesota WAKE UP next time she's up for re-election) can tell somebody to GO UT AND GET A JOB!! If it were that easy then I am sure the unemployment rate would not be hovering around 9% at the moment.

    November 17, 2011 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  6. OKCritic

    Bachmann must know she is wasting her time running for president. Anyone still planning to vote for her should be kept away from sharp objects. Bachmann has set one mark, however. She has evaded and not answered directly more questions posed to her than any other candidate.

    November 17, 2011 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  7. Sniffit

    "Why then did she feel she had to water down everything and assume they did not know anything about current events?"

    Because that's the current perception the GOP/Teatrolls are promoting, particularly in places like NH and ME where GOP/Teatroll leaders have babbled nonsense about students being totally clueless and uninformed and voting soelly on their feelings, etc., and therefore "maybe we should raise the voting age, take away their ability to conduct registration drives and consider it voter fraud when college students who came from out of state vote in the state in which they attend school." In other words, they project all the usual attributes of a GOP/Teatroll base voter onto young people who are concerned about their future, are trying to better themselves and trying to do their civic duty. Why? Because they voted in record numbers for a black Dem for POTUS last time around.

    November 17, 2011 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  8. Sniffit

    "How in the world did she manage to keep her job for this long?"

    Simple: she does what her owners pay her to do.

    November 17, 2011 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  9. Heather, WA

    The reason that the top 1% pay so much of the taxes is because they have all the wealth hoarded among them. The bottom 47% would be happy to pay more taxes if there were more opportunities for them to make a little bit more money. The wealthy is becoming more and more wealthy while the middle and lower class are seeing their wealth decrease or stagnate. How do you explain that Michelle? Is it that these executives earned the millions of dollars in bonuses that they receive meanwhile laying off their hardworking employees. And why do you and the others bash the OWS movement for protesting the lack of opportunities while the rich get richer?

    November 17, 2011 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  10. Bill

    These kids are probably 10 times smarter and better informed than this arrogant, out-of-touch whackjob.

    November 17, 2011 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  11. Enraged

    "47% of Americans pay zero federal income taxes" And who exactly are these people?
    50% of them are living the sweet life on less than 20K a year. That's how much someone with a million dollar salary makes IN A WEEK
    22% of them are seniors, with probably only Social Security to keep them alive.
    15% are low income families with at least 2 children.
    And 7000 of them are millionaires. 0% tax rate municipal bonds and tax exempsions are a wonderful thing.

    November 17, 2011 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  12. Enraged

    Oh, and I also forgot the unemployed. Can't tax people who shockingly can't find a job with 9%+ unemployment.

    November 17, 2011 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  13. Leigh

    I was there today and very proud of my fellow Drake Bulldogs. That woman is nuts.

    November 17, 2011 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  14. SPLAT!~

    Bested by a bunch of subservient college students! OUCH!~

    November 17, 2011 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  15. John Herzog

    ":We could EITHER have spending cuts OR increase taxes which would cause a recession". She thinks the students are too naive (dumb) to realize that you could do both, have spending cuts and increase taxes.....And you might note that she and all other candidates, never state increase taxes on the rich, they just state increase taxes, in order to scare these immature, naive, young people who probably don't have a clue.....there was someone in the room who didn't have a clue!

    November 17, 2011 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  16. Doc

    I don't know which to choose......is she just without a clue and ignorant or is she without a clue and arrogant? That she would, even now, be considered a "candidate" is beyond all logical thinking. One of the comments sort of hit it squarely when they asked (paraphrasing) why it's ".... capitalism when you bail out big corporations and business but socialism when you talk about Social Security, healthcare, and jobless benefits?" It seems that Ms. Bachmann, like her colleges on the debate stage, doesn't have a real clue and has absolutely no comprehension of what's going on beyond the Potomac River.

    November 17, 2011 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  17. Cajun_Dude

    Her calculations on the "Obamacare" should have included how many people will die if she had her way and eliminated health care for the poor. I suppose, for her, dying poor would also reduce the social security costs.
    The whole Republican gang have already signed a pre-nup oath to Grover that superseedes their oath to the United States.

    November 17, 2011 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  18. Jack

    How stupid can we get. This woman couldn't run a hot dog stand

    November 17, 2011 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  19. jk from MN

    Once again I AM SO GRATEFUL that I do not live in the MN 6th district that she represents, or should I say was elected to serve. MN 6th district – you should be SO proud. Any voter's remorse going yet?

    November 17, 2011 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  20. LacrosseMom(real one)

    I was raised in a Republican home, and was a GOPer, until Dubya came along. I am amazed at the group of clowns that the RNC is offering America as possible presidents! Bachman is delusional, totally inept.

    The only candidate worthy of my attention is Huntsman, and he is too Liberal for the Teabaggers!

    November 17, 2011 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  21. LacrosseMom(real one)

    PS. I feel sorry for these students having to listen to Bachman!

    November 17, 2011 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  22. jack

    She states that 47% of the people don't pay federal income tax which may be directly related to the fact the U.S. now
    has the highest poverty rate that it has ever had. If trickle down economics and tax breaks for the rich are the answer,
    can she please explain this? The least educated in the room was standing in the front of the room and the students knew this.

    November 17, 2011 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  23. LacrosseMom(real one)

    @Leigh...... I agree Bachman is nuts!

    November 17, 2011 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  24. Tom

    A hundred people on my facebook have a "job" and are in college without health care. Full time jobs too. I don't think they can get a fancy legal job before leaving college. So I guess she means "You're screwed until you're out of college and get a shiney good paying job." If everyone thought like that, who would serve this woman her coffee?!

    November 17, 2011 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  25. Chris Marshall

    Wow, amazing woman. Is she high on something or what..

    November 17, 2011 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
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