Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., on Thursday tackled some of the stickier questions that have dogged her presidential bid—including her husband’s professional method of “reparative therapy” for homosexuals and the federal loan program that she has privately benefited while publicly rebuking it—in a speech followed by a question and answer session, at the National Press Club.
One day after the Washington Post broke the news that Bachmann had taken out a loan in 2008 from Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac—the same government programs she has said should be dismantled, citing their burden to taxpayers—Bachmann faced the sold-out crowd at a National Press Club luncheon and tried to turn a problem into a political advantage.
“Now, unlike all of you, who I’m sure pay cash for your homes," she joked, "there are people out there like myself who actually have to go to a bank and get a mortgage. And this is the problem: It’s almost impossible to buy a home in this country today without the federal government being involved."
Asked if she supports the "reparative therapy" technique that her husband, Marcus, uses in an attempt to “cure” homosexuality at the Minnesota-based counseling center that the couple co-owns, Bachmann argued that questions about her husband's practice are irrelevant to her campaign.
“I’m extremely proud of my husband; I have tremendous respect and admiration for him,” Bachmann said. “But I am running for the presidency of the United States. My husband is not running for the presidency. Neither are my children, neither is our business, neither [are] our foster children.”
Reprising the question that stumped and embarrassed then-GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin in 2008, one attendee asked Bachmann where she gets her news. Fox News host Greta Van Susteren, who was seated next to Bachmann’s daughter Elisa at the head table, looked up from her iPad for the first time during the hour-long address to chuckle and roll her eyes. Bachmann named MSNBC and The Huffington Post as two left-leaning sources she checks regularly. "I prefer to go from the sources from the left first, rather than from the right,” she said.
For the first time since National Journal examined Bachmann’s past as a tax collector for the IRS, Bachmann explicitly alluded to her former employer, noting that she had served as a lawyer for the agency. Later asked which aspects of politics she finds difficult to reconcile with her Christian faith, Bachmann said: “Oh goodness. The tax collectors, maybe?”
Bachmann's visit to the National Press Club, a century-old hangout for Washington correspondents, underscores one major difference between Bachmann and Palin—the potential 2012 rival to whom she is inevitably compared: While Palin strictly limits contact with what she describes as the “lame-stream media,” Bachmann has been highly accessible to reporters. At the Press Club, the congresswoman said she has accepted “that every chapter of my life will be looked at prior to November 2012.”