- Chris Christie Is "Huggable and Lovable"
- DeMint Won't Be Pulling for Huntsman
- Deficit Talk With McConnell and Clyburn
- Kyl: Deal Is About Reducing Spending
- Bachmann Adopts More Measured Tone on Face the Nation
Chris Christie Is "Huggable and Lovable"
11:39 a.m. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who barked “it’s none of your business” to a voter who questioned his decision to send his kids to parochial school while cutting public-school spending, defended himself Sunday as “huggable and lovable.”
The governor’s blunt manner has earned him legions of fans and foes while helping him build a national reputation as potential GOP presidential contender in 2016. He has repeatedly ruled out a 2012 bid.
“This is who I am, and the public knows they get it straight from me,” Christie said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “I am very blunt I am very direct. I wish more people in public life would respond just that way.”
He added, “I say what I believe from my heart. And if some people are offended by that, I'm sorry.”
Asked about his potential as a vice presidential contender in 2012, Christie asked, “Can you imagine? The person who picks me as vice president would have to be sedated."
DeMint Won't Be Pulling for Huntsman
11:14 a.m. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., has kingmaker potential for conservatives in 2012, but on Sunday he was largely keeping his plans for the next election to himself.
Speaking on CNN's State of the Union, DeMint said he has "no plans to recruit candidates against any of our candidates" in the Senate and demurred on the presidential race -- with the unsurprising exception of moderate Jon Huntsman.
"I won't support any candidate who does not support balancing the budget," DeMint said. "So for me, he's out."
He added that he's "confident" in the GOP field and "I'm not writing anyone off unless they write off the idea of a balanced budget."
Deficit Talk With McConnell and Clyburn
10:47 a.m. The stalemate over taming the federal deficit was apparent in dueling interviews Sunday with Republican and Democratic congressional leaders.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., seemed to rule out the possibility of raising tax rates or finding new sources of revenue by pointing out that the extending tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans passed last year when the Democratic Party controlled both chambers.
“Putting aside the fact that Republicans don’t like to raise taxes, Democrats don’t either,’’ McConnell said on ABC’s This Week. “We need to talk about what can pass.’’
But Assistant House Minority Leader Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., said: “I don’t know if anybody defines ‘tax increase’ as closing the loophole” on oil companies paying taxes on their profits.
The Treasury Department says Congress must increase its $14.3 trillion debt ceiling by August 2 or risk defaulting on its financial obligations. President Obama is scheduled to meet Monday with McConnell after consulting with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
Kyl: Deal Is About Reducing Spending
10:23 a.m. After leaving the administration's working group on deficit reduction last week, Sen. Jon Kyl indicated Sunday that if his party had been ready to get creative on raising revenue as part of a deal to raise the debt ceiling, it's far less willing now.
Responding to Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace's question about limiting deductions, the Arizona Republican said, "We're perfectly willing to consider those kinds of issues in the context of tax reform, which we would very much like to do. But we're not going to have the time to do it or be able to do it in order just to raise revenue as a part of this exercise, which should be just about reducing spending.
With a little over five weeks remaining until the day when the Treasury says the U.S. will begin defaulting on its debt obligations, Kyl said President Obama "has to make a decision which is more important to him: Solving this problem, reducing spending somewhat, or making sure we raise taxes on the American economy. If that's his ideological bent here... we've got a big problem."
Kyl, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, was one of two Republicans on the deficit-reduction panel led by Vice President Joe Biden. The other was House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, who also left the group last week.
Bachmann Adopts More Measured Tone on Face the Nation
10:05 a.m. Poised to formally launch her presidential campaign, a more cautious Michele Bachmann suggested Sunday that she regretted assailing President Obama's "anti-American views" and refused to rule out nominating judges who favor gay marriage.
In an interview on CBS's Face the Nation to be aired at 10:30 a.m., the congresswoman from Minnesota known for her blunt attacks and rigidly conservative views adopted a softer posture.
"I don't question the president's patriotism at all," Bachmann said of her harsh assessment of Obama during the 2008 campaign. She added, "Sure, there's a lot of things I wish I would have said differently."
The day after a poll showed her neck-and-neck with Mitt Romney at the front of the Republican pack in Iowa, Bachmann pivoted from the kind of inflammatory rhetoric that has fueled her national reputation and fundraising success to more mainstream themes. The change in tone suggests Bachmann, a leader in the conservative tea party movement, realizes that she needs to shore up her credibility with the Republican political establishment if she wants to be the party's nominee.
"The president doesn't seem to have an understanding of how the economy works," she said, focusing on what voters say is their priority in the 2012 election. "It doesn't seem that he has a basic understanding of how to do the job of president of the United States.... I think, quite simply, the president has been wrong in his policy prescriptions for the country."
Bachmann defined marriage as between a man and a woman and said she would not nominate "activist judges." But she said the litmus test was the U.S. Constitution, not her personal views.
"My primary test will be the Constitution," she said. "I know what my view is.... I am running for the presidency of the United States, I am not running to be anyone's judge."
At the same time, in an interview on Fox News Sunday, Bachmann sought to split the difference between states' rights to pass laws legalizing gay marriage and the federal government's right to move a constitutional amendment banning it. Asked by host Chris Wallace if she would support such an amendment, she said, "Yes, I would."
The first Des Moines Register Iowa Poll of the 2012 Republican presidential field shows a horse race between Bachmann, who officially launches her campaign in Iowa on Monday, and Mitt Romney, the early front-runner for the nomination.
"We're very grateful for this poll and it confirms what we were hearing on the ground," she said on CBS. "...We know it's still a long road ahead. It's a marathon, not a sprint."
Bachmann stressed her experience as a federal tax attorney and a businesswoman who operates two mental health clinics with her husband. Asked if she thought her business background was on par with Romney, who ran a hugely successful investment firm, she said, "I would say that I have business qualifications. And I think the main thing that people need to know is that I think profits are a good thing.... We know how to create jobs. I have a lot of experience with that."
Host Bob Schieffer gently pointed out that she did not directly answer questions about past statements judged misleading by fact-checking media outlets, and he questioned her facts on offshore oil drilling and the debt ceiling.