DES MOINES -- Michele Bachmann spent her day trying to keep the focus on her economic plans, and away from the white-hot political story of the moment – Herman Cain’s sexual harassment scandal. But she was pulled back into the fray Wednesday afternoon during a tele-town hall with members of the National Federation of Independent Business, the National Restaurant Association (the group Cain led when female subordinates accused him of harassment), the National Association of Home Builders, and the Associated Builders and Contractors.
“I’m really concerned with the Republican candidates’ status,” Bill Shaw a member of the National Association of Home Builders from Houston, Texas, said on the call. “With Cain now having problems with his personal life, with Perry who can’t seem to debate and, according to the liberal media, Romney is now surging. Why should I give you the vote, give you my vote?”
“Well, you’re asking the right question,” Bachmann told Shaw. Without mentioning any of her fellow candidates, she added: “America is looking for is a leader with a core of conviction, who is going to do what they say they’re going to do and mean what they say.”
The night before, in a speech before a Baptist Convention in Marshalltown, Iowa, Bachmann seemed to more directly allude to Cain’s recent problems when she told the crowd “This is the year when we can’t have any surprises with our candidate."
The Minnesota congresswoman, who is pinning her hopes on Iowa, the state where she was born and where the first votes of the presidential race will be cast, has been promoting herself as the authentic fiscal and social conservative in the race. In both a radio appearance and the tele-town hall today, she focused on the need to drastically reduce government spending, and acknowledged that she would consider major changes to popular social programs such as Medicare and Social Security.
“The first year would be an extremely painful year,” Bachmann told the listeners on the tele-town hall. “But my opinion is this, the country worked prior to inception of the modern welfare state that really gained a head of steam beginning in the 1960s. That modern welfare state is squelching economic activity.”
During an earlier appearance on an Iowa-based conservative radio talk show, Bachmann said the Social Security system must be changed for younger Americans. On Medicare, she was a bit more specific, suggesting replacing it with a voucher system that would allow beneficiaries to shop for their own insurance plan.
Throughout the day, Bachmann pointed the financial crisis Greece as harbinger for what might happen in United States if the country doesn’t get its financial house in order. She compared the actions of Greeks – who are balking at conditions imposed by a proposed European Community bailout -- to disobedient teenager who ends up in jail after wrecking the family car. "The worst thing you can do as a parent,” Bachmann said, “is go and bail that child out of their own irresponsible behavior.”