Opinion: John Wayne to John Adams: Michele Bachmann stands by her (mis)statements


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John Wayne, John Wayne Gacy, John Adams, John Quincy Adams. The details don’t seem to matter too much to Michele Bachmann, who appears to be taking a page out of Sarah Palin’s playbook: when in doubt, don’t retreat, reload.

When confronted Tuesday morning on two nationally broadcast interviews that focused on some of the inaccurate statements that she’s uttered over the years, the conservative congresswoman smiled, looked directly into the camera and defended her words.


ABC’s George Stephanopoulos spoke with Bachmann on “Good Morning America” and told her that the Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact website ranked her last among leading presidential candidates in regards to what Stephen Colbert calls “truthiness.”

“Earlier this year you said that the Founding Fathers who wrote the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence worked tirelessly to end slavery. Now with respect Congresswoman, that’s just not true. Many of them including Jefferson and Washington were actually slaveholders and slavery didn’t end until the Civil War,” Stephanopoulos said.

But after reminding the host and the television audience that “we no longer have slavery” and “that’s a good thing,” Bachmann explained that John Quincy Adams, as a young boy, “tirelessly worked throughout his life to make sure that we did in fact one day eradicate slavery....”

Stephanopoulos cut the lawmaker off to correct her and give her a chance to back away from her misstatement.

“He wasn’t one of the Founding Fathers,” Stephanopoulos said. “He was a president, he was a secretary of State, he was a member of Congress, you’re right he did work to end slavery decades later. But so you are standing by this comment that the Founding Fathers worked tirelessly to end slavery?”

And just like Palin’s interesting take on Paul Revere, Bachmann stubbornly stuck to her guns.

“Well, John Quincy Adams most certainly was a part of the Revolutionary War era. He was a young boy but he was actively involved,” Bachmann said.

Tuesday the congresswoman also made an appearance on CNN’s “American Morning,” where on one hand she acknowledged that she is human and capable of misspeaking, but on the other hand she refused to say she goofed Monday when she said that beloved actor John Wayne, and not the infamous serial killer John Wayne Gacy, was from her hometown of Waterloo, Iowa.


“People can make mistakes and I wish I could be perfect every time I say something, but I can’t,” Bachmann said. “But one thing people know about me is that I’m a substantive, serious person and I have a strong background.”

But when it came to explaining her gaffe about Gacy, Bachmann simply reloaded.

“John Wayne’s parents’ first home was in Waterloo, Iowa, and he was from Iowa and of course the main point I was making are the sensibilities of John Wayne, which is patriotism, love of country, standing up for our nation, that positive enthusiasm is what America’s all about,” Bachmann said. “And that’s of course my main point.”


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-- Tony Pierce

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