Final pre-Iowa caucus debate: Bachmann vs. Gingrich

Rep. Michele Bachmann sought to diminish former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich’s leading position in the Republican presidential nomination battle at last night’s debate in Sioux City. She accused Gingrich of influence-peddling and weakness on opposition to legalized abortion. Gingrich fought back accusing Bachmann of untruths.

Asked by a Fox News moderator how she could back up her claim that Gingrich was paid to lobby on behalf of Freddie Mac, Bachmann said Gingrich’s paycheck was confirmation.

“That’s the best evidence you can have. Over $1.6 million dollars,” said Bachmann. She said Gingrich was promoting Freddie Mac at a time when she was trying to dismantle the mortgage giant.

“He was taking $1.6 million dollars to influence senior Republicans keep the scam going in Washington D.C. That’s absolutely wrong,” Bachmann said,

In response, Gingrich snapped back at Bachmann. “Sometimes people ought to have facts before they make wild allegations,” he said.

“What she just said is factually not true. I never lobbied under any circumstance,” said Gingrich who doesn’t deny Freddie Mac paid him but says it was for consulting work, not lobbying.

Bachmann said Gingrich’s explanation does not add up.

“You don’t need to be within the technical definition of being a lobbyist to still be influence-peddling with senior Republicans in Washington, DC.” Bachmann said.

Later in the debate Bachmann was asked to outline her concerns about Gingrich on the issue of legalized abortion. She accused Gingrich of failing to pursue opportunities to defund Planned Parenthood when he was in Congress and that he lacked aggression in opposing fellow Republicans who supported partial birth abortion.

“When he was in Washington D.C. he made an affirmative statement that he would not only support, but that he would campaign for Republicans who were in support of the barbaric procedure known as ‘partial birth abortion’. I could never do that,” said Bachmann who called opposition to legalized abortion a “seminal issue,” for Republicans.

“It’s something that we can’t get wrong and as president of the United States, I will be 100 percent pro-life from conception until natural death,” said Bachmann.

Gingrich, again, accused Bachmann of being wrong.

“Sometimes Congresswoman Bachmann doesn’t get her facts accurate,” said Gingrich who cited his 98.5 percent right to life voting record over 20 years along with efforts to ban partial birth abortion.

But Bachmann did not back down and demanded a rebuttal.

“This isn’t just once. I think it’s outrageous to continue to say over and over through the debates that I don’t have my facts rights when, as a matter of fact, I do. I’m a serious candidate for president of the United States and my facts are accurate,” said Bachmann reiterating her point that Gingrich failed to hold some fellow Republicans accountable on partial birth abortion.

Finally Gingrich conceded the point.

“What I said on that particular issue is, I wouldn’t go out and try to purge Republicans. Now I don’t see how you’re going to govern the country if you’re going to run around and decide who you’re going to purge,” said Gingrich who said he has consistently opposed partial birth abortion and supports prohibiting legalized abortion. Gingrich also said as president, he would defund Planned Parenthood.

In addition to criticizing Gingrich, Bachmann attempted to address electability questions about her candidacy, claiming that the elections she has won for Minnesota Senate and Congress were won not only with the support of Republicans, but also with votes from independents and even Democrats.

“People wanted to know, who could they trust? They knew that, in me, they may not always agree with me, but they knew that I was a woman who said what she meant and meant what she said and they respected that level of authenticity and sincerity,” said Bachmann.

Bachmann will seek to build on any momentum the last few debates have given her struggling campaign with a weeks-long bus tour of Iowa in which she plans stops in all of its 99 counties.

In an interview with MPR News Thursday afternoon on her campaign bus, Bachmann said the strategy mimics her successful summer campaign push in Iowa.

“Of all of the candidates, no one has done more retail politics in Iowa than I have done and I am very happy to have done that. I think that paid off very well for the Straw Poll. I’m the candidate that won the straw poll and now we’re employing the same strategy. We’re going to be in all 99 Iowa counties and I think that’s exactly what we need to do to actually meet people where they are, shake their hand, speak with them. Iowans want to know they matter and they matter to me.”

Bachmann kicks off her bus tour Friday with several stops planned in conservative northwestern Iowa.

The next debate is scheduled for January 7, just a few days after Iowans will finally cast ballots in the GOP nomination battle. That debate will take place in Manchester, N.H. with the remaining candidates.

  • Bachmann is obviously trying to break the adage attributed to Lincoln (even though I dont think it was really his saying) of tearing down someone else to build up yourself. Her points were technicalities and not substantive. Gingrich answered them and rightfully pointed out, as nicely as he could that she manipulated the facts for her advantage. The best evidence is that her response, “I’m a serious candidate” reflected a self-conscious weakness. She almost appeared to be whining.

  • Torqued

    Won’t be long and Gingrich will be marrying Bachmann after another affair, This is just their courting ritual. I find it funny though. Neither will be President of the United States. The Republican Party has it all backwards. The Democrats do also. Oh well, the good ol media is calling the shots now-a-days. I figure I will just ride this rodeo donkeyelephantbull all the way into the mass graves.

  • reschlund

    According to politifact and other fact finding agencys Rep. Michele Bachmann’s attacks were 60% lies or un-true.

    This woman is far from a Presidential person.

    When not telling out right lies she makes things up.

    Her comment to get rid of the American Embassy in Iran just goes to show you how clueless this woman is.

    for over 30 years we have not had a embassy in Iran.

    Anyone who would defend this woman is insane,she is a space cadet from I don’t know where.

    But would anyone really want this person running the most powerful country in the world?

    Fact check here>

  • welderbob
  • Derek Wain

    At the time that the abortion issue arose as part of welfare reform, at least one of the Republicans Gingrich supported and campaigned for did accept partial birth abortion. Gingrich was aware of this at the time.

    Bachmann was substantively correct on her charge. Gingrich’s reference to his voting record was irrelevant to MB specific, concrete charge, which was accurate. She did not refer to his “voting record.”

    MB has has had the courage and determination to catch out Newt on several substantive lies, especially about lobbying for Freddie Mac. Although Newt was not a registered lobbyist, he did lobby for Freddie Mac. I do not trust him to tell the truth. I do trust MB, the little lady with a spine of titanium.

  • Kathy

    Shhhh….please let her believe she has a chance at this…at least until it’s too late for her to file again for her current seat. Please….

  • John Crampton

    So what are the ag subsidies to the Bachmann’s and the govt. grants to fund Marcus Bachmann in beating gays over the head with Bibles? Sounds like Bachmann has her snout in the old trough herself….oink, oink, oink. Please, quit giving coverage to this piece of christian nazi trailer trash and the vicious Repulsive Party clown show cricuit.

  • jefflz

    Dumb and Dumber. ‘Nough said.