Rep. Bachmann's "Birther" Slip-Up

October 07, 2009 10:28 am ET — Matt Finkelstein

After repeatedly dodging the question, Rep. Michele Bachmann finally said of President Obama, "I have no reason to doub that he wasn't born in the United States."

Last night, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) appeared on CNN's "Larry King Live" alongside James Carville and former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer.  At one point, Bachmann was asked whether she agrees with Sen. Lindsey Graham's (R-SC) claim that so-called "birthers" are "crazy." Bachmann, who spends most of her time playing to the right-wing fringe, did her best to dodge the question. "You know, it's so interesting, this whole birther issue hasn't even been one that's ever been brought up to me by my constituents," she said. "They continue to ask me, Larry, where are the jobs?"

When King pressed Bachmann to give a yes or no answer to the question, the congresswoman insisted that she had already "answered it very clearly." Further challenged by Carville, who asked, "Are they nutty or not?" Bachmann repeated, "The people in my district want to know where are the jobs?" After King refused to let it go, Bachmann finally stated, "I have no reason to doubt that he wasn't born in the United States." Watch it:

Bachmann also said that she's comfortable with Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck being the voice of the conservative movement, and it's no surprise that she would be reluctant to criticize her far-right base.  But still, one wonders whether her double-negative might have been a Freudian slip. 

TRANSCRIPT:

KING: Congresswoman Bachmann, would you agree with what Senator Graham just said?

BACHMANN: You know, it's so interesting, this whole birther issue hasn't even been one that's ever been brought up to me by my constituents. They continue to ask me, Larry, where are the jobs?

That's what they want to know, where are the jobs?

KING: All right. But we -- the question was, therefore, do you agree with what Senator Graham just said?

BACHMANN: That's a non-issue. In my district, it's a flat out non-issue.

FLEISCHER: Larry, I...

KING: All right. We'll be right back with more -- don't go away -- on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE.

We'll get Carville's comments.

Don't go away.

KING: James, were you going to comment on some of this falderal?

CARVILLE: I would love to comment on (INAUDIBLE), where you left off.

FLEISCHER: So would I.

(CROSSTALK)

FLEISCHER: Go ahead, James. You go first.

CARVILLE: Well, first of all, there are seven Republicans in the House that have birther legislation before there. And one of the things that people don't like is that politicians get a simple yes or no question and they try to evade it, just like I heard Cong -- the Congresswoman do. She's known to be very outspoken...

BACHMANN: Oh, not at all. I answered.

CARVILLE: I can't believe that she doesn't have the courage just to give us a simple yes or no answer -- do you believe that these birthers are plum crazy, because that's what Senator Graham was saying?

And it's a simple question -- do you believe that they're crazy or not?

KING: But that was the only question...

FLEISCHER: Let me -- let me jump in.

KING: (INAUDIBLE).

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Do you think they're nuts?

All right, go ahead, Ari.

Go ahead.

FLEISCHER: I -- I think this movement is nutty. I think this is nutty. I think there's no evidence and people shouldn't waste any time on it.

But I want to point out something that is a terrible hypocrisy about all of this. When George Bush was elected, there were many people who called him illegitimate and said that he lost Florida despite there being no evidence of that being the case.

CARVILLE: I was one.

FLEISCHER: But nobody...

CARVILLE: I was one.

FLEISCHER: But hold on a second. Hold on, James.

CARVILLE: Yes. OK. I was one of them.

FLEISCHER: Hold on. Nobody blew the whistle and started to say, well, wait a minute, aren't these people on the left nutty?

It always seemed that people said George Bush was a divider, not a uniter and they didn't talk about the tactics of the left being the problem.

Now, when people on the right are making claims that are not supported, it's as if all the media referees now can't wait to blow their whistle and throw their flags and say the problem is on the right.

That's hypocritical. And if you ask me, there's -- there's a loony factor in both parties. And I'd say for everyone who's a little lulu on the left, there's -- I mean on the right -- every one who's a little lulu on the right, there's about 1.8 who's lulu on the left.

CARVILLE: Well, I was one.

KING: Mr. Carville, you look excited.

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: The Supreme Court stopped it -- it stopped the count that -- that Al Gore was going to win. But that's OK. I can't believe that Congressman Bachmann...

FLEISCHER: That's -- no, that's not the point.

CARVILLE: -- couldn't answer a yes or no question.

BACHMANN: I answered the question.

CARVILLE: You see -- are they crazy or not?

BACHMANN: And I answered it very clearly.

CARVILLE: No, you didn't.

BACHMANN: What I -- what I said...

CARVILLE: Are they nutty or not?

BACHMANN: The people in my district want to know where are the jobs?

That's what I hear over and over...

CARVILLE: Again -- again, let me ask you...

BACHMANN: ...meeting after meeting...

KING: I understand that...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Hold it, hold it, hold it.

BACHMANN: No one is bringing this issue up and...

KING: Congresswoman, I am -- Congresswoman, the only thing was the question was simple -- do you believe the birthers?

Forget the district, forget the jobs for a moment.

Do you believe President Obama was born in the United States?

BACHMANN: I have no reason to doubt that he wasn't born in the United States. I have none. The only place that this issue comes up is on the left. You don't hear people on the right bringing this issue up. Honest...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Then where did it start?

BACHMANN: In Minnesota, the only thing people are interested in are where are the jobs?

KING: Do you think the left started it?

BACHMANN: I don't know. I have no idea.

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