RSS
Michele Bachmann's 'revealing' book: 9 highlights
Can a retelling of the Minnesota congresswoman's story, mixed with a little dishing, revive her presidential campaign?
 
In her new book, Rep Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) reveals that she would have preferred Hillary Clinton to President Obama, and that one of Bachmann's forebears won a Kansas farm from Jesse James in a poker game.
In her new book, Rep Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) reveals that she would have preferred Hillary Clinton to President Obama, and that one of Bachmann's forebears won a Kansas farm from Jesse James in a poker game.
Amazon.com

Rep. Michele Bachmann's (R-Minn.) first book, Core of Conviction: My Story, was released Monday, and it's "largely a 206-page version of her stump speech" for the GOP presidential nomination, says Seema Mehta in the Los Angeles Times. The book recounts Bachmann's childhood, parents' divorce, spiritual awakening, marriage, child-rearing, early career, and, in the final chapter, her run for president. But among the well-worn talking points, says Minnesota Public Radio's Catharine Richert, are some "revealing tidbits" and dishy political nuggets. Book-promotion tours have worked wonders for rivals Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich, says Tim Murphy at Mother Jones. So "if Core of Conviction can't save Bachmann's campaign, nothing will." Here, nine highlights from Bachmann's debut book:

1. She says she entered politics on a whim
Bachmann's first successful election was in 2000, when she unseated a Republican state senator she found too moderate. As Bachmann tells it in Core of Conviction, she attended the GOP nominating convention, gave a speech, and threw her name in the hat on a whim, "just doing my duty as a citizen, speaking out." Not so fast, says Murphy at Mother Jones. In earlier versions of her story, Bachmann said she planned her primary challenge for a year. "By some accounts, there were even pro-Bachmann campaign signs" at the convention. This creation myth "whopper," on Page 1, sets the tone for the book.

2. She blasts Bush for "bailout socialism"
Bachmann lobs plenty of shots at President Obama and his "gangster government," but she doesn't refrain from criticizing her own party, or its last president. In the 2006 elections, when Bachmann won her U.S. House seat and the GOP lost the House, voters felt Republicans "had grown smug and complacent" and turned the House into "a bad brew of GOP incompetence, carelessness, and a dash of corruption," she writes. By 2008, Bachmann laments, the Bush administration "was embracing a kind of 'bailout socialism'" by pushing the TARP bank rescue, which she calls an unconstitutional "$700 billion blank check." (A $700 billion "blank check" is "a logical impossibility," notes Mother Jones' Murphy.)

3. But still recalls Bush fondly
Despite TARP, Bush is an "eminently decent man," Bachmann writes. When the 43rd president campaigned for her in 2006, Bachmann's mother told her to dress like a lady, so she work a pink suit, pink shoes, and pink gloves. In the presidential limo, Bachmann says, Bush "asked with a crinkly smile" why she was wearing the gloves, and when she explained, "he said gently, 'Lose the gloves.'"

4. Bachmann just adores Iowa
Bachmann moved to Minnesota from Iowa when she was 12, but she praises her must-win birth state throughout the book, "either as a proud former resident, a pandering politician, or both," says Devin Henry at MinnPost. For example, here's her recollection of learning that she'd be moving: "I don't want to leave Iowa. I love living in Iowa. Iowa is home — everything I know. It's family, friends, church. A happy place. A wonderful place. I never want to be anywhere else. And when I die, I want to be buried in the Garden of Memories Cemetery, alongside my grandparents."

5. She prefers Hillary Clinton to Obama
Assuming Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) couldn't have won the 2008 presidential election, Bachmann writes, "I would have wanted Mrs. Clinton" to win. "I could see that she seemed less leftist revolutionary than Obama."

6. Bachmann is a Palin fan, too
The Minnesotan has even warmer words for McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin, whom Bachmann met in the summer of 2008 in Alaska. "Sarah and I realized that we had a lot in common," Bachmann writes. "We shared the same firm faith; we both had carved out political careers thanks to our supportive husbands. In addition, we both had five biological kids."

7. She has a "love-hate relationship" with NPR's Garrison Keillor
Even though she voted to cut funding for public radio, Bachmann has warm words for her fellow Ankola High School alum Keillor, calling the liberal Prairie Home Companion host a "legend." Keillor's "politics are very different from mine, but I love his gentle, knowing humor," she adds. Keillor doesn't return the love, says Ben Smith at Politico. He wrote a campaign letter for Bachmann's 2010 rival calling the Republican "embarrassing to me and a great many Minnesotans."

8. Bachmann has some favorite buzz words
Bachmann uses the word "faith" 43 times and "ObamaCare" 51 times in her book, and has 49 references to Obama and 37 to Ronald Reagan. It also has 109 exclamation points in its 200-plus pages.

9. And there's plenty more "Bachmannalia"
Along with larger revelations, the book is "littered with Bachmannalia," says Mother Jones' Murphy. Like when she first saw a reference to the Beatles' song "Michelle," she was confused: "Why the two letters?" And as a teenager, she babysat a young Gretchen Carlson, now a Fox News morning host. The book includes a photo of the two of them in a swimming pool. Bachmann also recounts a family story in which her great-great-grandfather Halvor Munson won a Kansas farm in a poker game with infamous bandit Jesse James, reveling, "Who knew that you could win at poker with Jesse James and live?"

Sources: AP, CNN, Death & Taxes, Gawker, Los Angeles Times, Mother Jones, Minnesota Public Radio, MinnPost, Politico (2)

 

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week