Bachmann gives students a 101 on issues, then gets lectured
November 17th, 2011
03:49 PM ET
10 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. FLOP

    Oh what I would do to be in attendance of that "lecture". Kids are much smarter than she gives them credit for. But for the first time, and this pains me to say this, I actually agree with one thing that came out of that vapid woman's mouth.. "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."

    November 17, 2011 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |

    Has she not gotten a clue yet? Her campaign is naught!

    November 17, 2011 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  3. B.Bear1

    The young woman seated directly to Ms. Bachmann's left, wearing the Obama t.short, is my hero for today. YOU GO GIRL!

    November 17, 2011 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  4. Al-NY,NY

    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."
    but if you can't find a job, even in Rick Perry's minimum wage atmosphere, too bad, It's your fault. She is so dense it's not funny.

    November 17, 2011 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  5. Wes B.

    Next week she'll try a group of high schoolers. After she finds that they're also above her intellectually, she'll speak to a class of deaf, dumb, and mute people. They'll still be smarter than her, of course, but they won't be able to hear/reply.

    November 17, 2011 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  6. cf

    Someone who receives a government handout of $200,000 worth of the taxpayers' money for her family farm is in no place to lecture others on the "difficulty of poverty" or how you should "get a job and work hard" instead of relying on others.

    November 17, 2011 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  7. ex-sarge

    Dear Ms. Bachmann, the country is not broke, it just has a few deadbeat dads who won't pay their support. Now that isn't hard to understand, is it? So replace "deadbeat dads" with insanely wealthy (I mean the top 1to 5 percent) folks and you get the picture. We like our police, we like our firemen, we like the emergency medical technician, we like our barave young people who answer the call to serve their country, and we are really tired of corporate toadies like yourself (and so many others in Washington) who have been "privatizing" the profits and "socializing" the debt. Why is it capitalism when it bails out multibillion/multinational banks and socialism when it helps the people who teach our children?

    November 17, 2011 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  8. Clueless

    I love it when politicains say, "You need to figure out how to get a job and make your way" as if it is the easiest thing to do. Unemployment is at 9.1%. What should these people who don't have health care but want a job do? As if the only solution to the healthcare problem is people getting a job. Healthcare costs are extremely expensive, and are only going to get worse. Something needs to be done to bring down the cost.

    November 17, 2011 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  9. salvatore

    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."

    Ohhhhh, all the unemployed and homeless need to do is find a job! Why didn't anyone think of that before!

    November 17, 2011 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  10. Cindy

    That's different: A black man that is priviledged in the US, compared to a rich Texas oil man. Who ever votes for these sick, twisted republicans need to have their behinds kicked!

    November 17, 2011 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  11. enbeee

    Michele, forget it. You are not the one. You're crazy talk gets the tea party excited, as does anyone who bashes our president (think donald trump being at the top of the polls last summer and more recently, herman cain) but eventually they move on to the next crazy . Honey, they moved on to the next crazy months ago when rick perry entered the race.

    November 17, 2011 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  12. Richard

    They should have asked her about her about the subsidies hr family farm received and her gay husbands business. I'm all for automony for everyone and I feel he should not hide his gayness. All anyone has to do is look at his mannerisms, if he is not gay he sure has effeminate mannerisms. I wonder how trying to change DNA by prayer is working for him.. Does he have a success rate listed on his website. Bunch of morally bankrupt people.

    November 17, 2011 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  13. Rudy NYC

    Didn't she realize that most, if not all, of the policies that are on her agenda have a negative effect on the students?

    November 17, 2011 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  14. Kirk Jonas

    What an arrogant twit. "Have you heard about the super committee?" Nah... they're college students, they can't read (or watch the news).

    "Figure out how to get a job." Like all the jobs you and your House cronies have created while you pass one anti-abortion bill after another, followed by concealed gun carry laws? Right.

    Problem for Bachmann is, those students know how to think critically, they're are at a real university, not the Bob Jones (pseudo) University she attended.

    November 17, 2011 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  15. Dan Druff

    So what this means is that the students at Drake are paying attention.

    November 17, 2011 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  16. Emperor Norton

    Every time somebody confronts her on anything, she falls back onto talking points. How in the world did she manage to keep her job for this long?

    November 17, 2011 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  17. texan

    Amazing !!!! Bachman badly under estimated her audience. These young people are sharp and interested in politics otherwise they wouldn`t have attended. Also, they are very astute at filtering out the political BS and getting directly to the point.

    November 17, 2011 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  18. Sniffit

    Let's reduce this article down to brass tacks:

    Dippy Doolittle travels to Drake Univ. to show students in person precisely why the GOP/Teatrolls are a misinformed, undereducated, simple-minded, myopic, corporate-puppet danger to the middle-class and the country's future stability and economic growth, virtually guaranteeing that the vast VAST majority of Drake Univ. students who vote will vote for Obama.

    BTW: "With the air of a college instructor"

    Not a single college or law school instructor I ever had talked down to the class in such a condescending, dumbed-down manner as though the students were simpletons that deserved no respect and should simply believe whatever they're told at face value. That's what priests and politicians do, not teachers.

    November 17, 2011 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  19. John MI

    Does this heiffer know that she worked at the IRS, used hundreds of thousands of dollars in subsidies from the federal government, and then opened up a clinic to mentally rape people one medicaire's dime? "I went out and got a job and made my way." Umm, yeah you're no one's role model lady.

    November 17, 2011 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  20. The Greedy Old Pigs have declared class war on US!

    Translation: You need to figure out how to get a job that doesn't exist and shut up if you can't.

    Those students let her off WAY too easy.

    November 17, 2011 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  21. bearced

    This woman is clearly out of touch with reality. "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." Wouldn't it be great if everyone could find a job that paid enough to live on and provided decent medical benefits! The sad fact is that far to many working people do not make a living wage and are not provided access to decent insurance! Once that happens then you should ask them to pay taxes!
    For the record I am gainfully employed and make a decent living, I know far to many WORKING people that cannot say the same thing.

    November 17, 2011 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  22. Sniffit

    What's more, she's the one who got schooled, not the students. Seems to me they weren't buying her line of crap in the slightest. Good for them. There may be hope for the future yet.

    November 17, 2011 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  23. lgny

    This was a town hall at Drake University. Why then did she feel she had to water down everything and assume they did not know anything about current events? This would have been appropriate had she been meeting with K-12 students, but most college students are very aware of what's happening. She must have misjudged her audience.

    November 17, 2011 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  24. chuckwagon

    This woman just flabbergasts me. I would rather weed my garden than read an article about her, but just can't help it.
    Any person who thinks they can talk the gay away is ready for the funny farm. Cain said one thing right when he referred to Michelle as "Tutti Frutti".

    November 17, 2011 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  25. MTATL67

    If we take a play out of the Perry hand book. Bachman told them that for almost half you your folks are dead beats and don't pay taxes. Her response to their questions yielded no real answers that address the meat of the question just canned campaign remarks. What I got from that is she has no actual plan to govern.

    November 17, 2011 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
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