Oh, how quickly the media winds change for U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann. Last week, pundits and politicos universally praised her transformation from a fringe figure and a partisan bomb-thrower into a serious contender for the presidency. This week, not so much.
No sooner had the 6th District congresswoman and "Queen of the Tea Party" rolled out her presidential campaign on Monday than the news media decided to remind everyone of her reputation as a virtual one-woman gaffe-factory. After starting out the week by conflating an American movie icon with a serial killer, a widely circulated Associated Press article ran through a checklist of some of Bachmann's most recent misstatements to the press. During an appearance on ABC's Good Morning America Tuesday, Bachmann helpfully added to that list by bungling a statement about the Founding Fathers' relationship to slavery.
Then, after Bachmann spent much of the weekend denying having ever received $290,000 in federal and state farm aid and human services grants, MSNBC reported that Bachmann's husband's clinic has received $137,000 in Medicaid payments—bringing the staunch fiscal conservative's total taxpayer take-home to potentially $427,000. Her campaign did not immediately respond to the article.
But her bad day wasn't over yet. Rocker Tom Petty's handlers sent Bachmann's campaign a cease-and-desist letter warning her to stop using his song "American Girl" at her campaign events. Bachmann isn't the first Republican to get the brush-off from Petty; former President George W. Bush was admonished to stop using "I Won't Back Down" during his 2000 campaign. MPR's Bob Collins humorously suggests Bachmann might be better off not using Petty's song anyway.
Bachmann is apparently taking all the heat in stride. At a campaign stop in South Carolina, she told reporters the criticism of her past misstatements "goes with the territory."
At separate events in South Carolina and New Hampshire, Bachmann rallied crowds by attacking President Obama and telling her supporters that she's not part of the "good ol' boys' club." NPR says she appeared "poised and polished," and left a good impression on attendees. CNN says she drew a big crowd in South Carolina, and MPR says she's moving up in the polls in New Hampshire.
Finally, Bachmann told ABC's George Stephanopoulos that eliminating government regulations, including the minimum wage, would "virtually wipe out" unemployment. Is she right? Surpise! The answer depends on whether you trust liberal or conservative economists.
(*Bonus: Acclaimed fact-checking organization PolitiFact has a page dedicated to Bachmann.)