Opinion: Michele Bachmann’s campaign rollout: Iowa to New Hampshire to South Carolina and 5 morning shows
This article was originally on a blog post platform and may be missing photos, graphics or links. See About archive blog posts.
Judging from her sudden surge in the polls, Michele Bachmann’s campaign lead-up and roll-out are going extremely well.
While the media focused on a couple of miscues, as it does with female candidates, especially conservative ones, the crowds, set-ups and pushing for interviews with the freshest Republican face around have been strong.
Yes, she should have displayed her website on the announcement podium and John Wayne was born in Iowa, just not in Bachmann’s hometown of Waterloo. But on her first full day of campaigning Tuesday Bachmann ran the media gauntlet by appearing on five major national morning news shows without leaving a room in New Hampshire.
Such serial satellite interviews can be grueling affairs with often awkward transmission delays and no one for the candidate to relate to. She’s staring straight into a pool camera and imagining millions of Americans preparing for their daily lives at work, camps, schools across the country, and trying to project her personality and message.
All this, without sweating too much, sneezing, suffering a wardrobe malfunction or revealing her....
...true feelings about the questions and those asking them. The media, of course, are trying to make new news and rehash the miscues, which she must deflect and return to the message. Both sides know what the other is doing, but it can be hard to stay poised. Bachman carried it off pretty well, as we chronicle below.
Between 6:30 and 7:30 a.m., Eastern time, the representative from Minnesota appeared on ABC’s ‘Good Morning America,’ ‘CBS’ ‘Early Show,’ NBC’s ‘Today Show,’ Fox News Channel’s ‘Fox & Friends’ and CNN’s ‘American Morning.’
Sorry, ‘Morning Joe.’
By appearing so early, Bachmann had a good chance of grabbing affluent voters before work, camp and school. The morning-show audiences are slightly younger than evening-news viewers and more often female. Among these are the so-called ‘soccer moms’ or ‘security moms,’ a key target demo among independent voters.
With Bachmann having worked as a tax attorney, run a business, raised five biological children and 23 foster children, and served in Congress, answering questions from multiple TV outlets couldn’t have seemed that hard. After all, you have to frequently repeat yourself to children ... and Congress.
Of course, there were many, many questions about Bachmann’s verbal gaffes, as The Ticket discussed here. But if the reporter didn’t want to talk about Bachmann’s background and qualifications, she was more than able to get it in.
The opening gambit of the broadcast networks was to play off Bachmann’s Iowa roots to offer the Sarah Palin update of the day.
On ‘GMA,’ host George Stephanopolous first threw to political correspondent Jonathan Karl, who was in Pella, Iowa, for that night’s premiere of the Palin biographical documentary, ‘The Undefeated,’ which the Ticket talked about Monday, which Sarah and Todd Palin attended.
As expected, there were comments about the possible meaning of Palin’s appearance in the earliest caucus state, aside from the obvious, to launch the film in the historic Pella Opera House.
Publicly, Palin remains uncommitted, although daughter Bristol Palin hinted during an appearance Monday night on FNC’s ‘Hannity,’ that the issue is discussed around the Palin ‘kitchen table.’
But, the eldest Palin daughter then came on ‘Fox & Friends’ after Bachmann’s appearance, and said her mother ‘definitely knows’ what she’s going to do.
And, no, she didn’t tell the anchors.
NBC also started out with Kelly O’Donnell in Pella -- although she couldn’t quite get the name of the movie right, calling it ‘Undefeated.’ CBS also had political correspondent Jan Crawford in Pella. For the record, Karl and Crawford got the name of the documentary correct.
Pressed by Stephanopolous, Bachmann asserted that she would look at ‘all regulations’ for possible change, including the minimum wage.
Stephanopolous also asked if Palin’s presence would ‘rain on your (Bachmann’s) parade.’
‘It’s wonderful the governor is coming to Iowa,’ said Bachmann.
On CBS, Rebecca Jarvis (sitting in for regular anchor Erica Hill) didn’t continue with any questions about the Palin effect after Crawford’s report.
Jarvis and Bachmann discussed stimulus and the upcoming vote on the debt ceiling (if there aren’t also budget cuts, Bachmann says she’s still a ‘no’ on that).
Then Jarvis offered a question posed by a Facebook user named ‘Chris,’ about Bachmann’s policies on job creation, Kudos to ‘Chris’ for one of the most on-point questions of the hour.
As she did in the GOP debate, when she remembered the name and personal details of a citizen asking a question remotely, Bachmann spoke directly to ‘Chris,’ using his name a couple of times while outlining her strategy of cutting federal spending and the corporate tax rate, and examining burdensome regulations.
NBC’s Matt Lauer didn’t bring up the gaffes -- perhaps because O’Donnell already had in her introduction -- but jumped right into her poll numbers and what she would do to bring down the nation’s unemployment rate of 9.1 percent.
Bachmann echoed a familiar theme from her, saying, ‘Probably the first thing I would do is repeal Obamacare,’ followed by the three items she cited to ‘Chris.’
Lauer also hit on the question of the debt ceiling vote, asking Bachmann if she was confident that GOP leaders would arrive at a compromise that wouldn’t make her ‘angry again.’
‘I am not confident at all,’ said Bachmann.
Lauer also referenced an assertion by Amy Kremer of the activist organization Tea Party Express that Bachmann will be ‘Palinized,’ then asked Bachmann if she knows what that means.
One would assume Kremer would be the best person to answer this question, but Lauer didn’t supply Kremer’s definition of her own term.
Bachmann started to reiterate her qualifications, but Lauer broke in and asked again about what ‘Palinized’ means.
Bachmann replied, ‘Well, I think that means there will be a media onslaught of attack, but that’s nothing new.’
Then on to ‘Fox & Friends,’ which did not go to a correspondent in Pella, Iowa (neither did the other cable news network, CNN).
Alisyn Camerota asked about a statement from Ben La Bolt, head of President Obama’s Chicago-based re-election campaign, that Bachmann’s policies would harm the middle class and Medicare.
Bachmann took the criticism as a compliment, saying, ‘Number one, this shows President Obama sees me as a real threat.’
Brian Kilmeade played comments from FNC’s senior political analyst Brit Hume, who said Bachmann ‘has a better chance of being nominated than she does of being elected,’ questioning her broad appeal and remarking that she ‘has a tendency to say things that may not have the additional attraction of being true.’
Bachmann addressed the question of her appeal and reiterated her history, but didn’t address the gaffe issue.
Camerota brought up the debt ceiling and segued into the question of cutting defense spending, prompting Bachmann to say there may be ‘waste’ in that area, and that all of the budget should be reviewed.
FNC finished off with a clip from WJLA’s ‘Inside Washington,’ in which Washington Post columnist Colby King called Bachmann a ‘Barbie with fangs.’
‘We’re proving them all wrong, aren’t we?’ Bachmann quipped.
Finally, on CNN, Kiran Chetry asked first about getting on the radar in New Hampshire. Then she went into the question of gaffes and stayed with it, finally asking Bachmann if it’s harder to prove you’re a serious person if you’re a woman.
After some discussion on Bachmann’s background and the maximum number of biological and foster children she had at one time -- it’s nine -- the candidate was done.
By the way, just as Chetry said to Bachmann that ‘people’ were doing, Chetry focused on the gaffes and didn’t find the time to ask about the economy, national defense, foreign policy or the debt ceiling. Maybe she should have called for Facebook questions.
On the plus side for Bachmann, she was never thrown off message nor showed signs of annoyance or impatience, and she plugged the heck out of her website and social-media efforts.
Bachmann later left the Granite State for a trip to South Carolina -- where she drew a large crowd outside an aquarium in Myrtle Beach -- followed by a return to Iowa for a bus tour. Candidates need to soak up the maximum free media exposure early before their opponents start jabbing.
Incidentally, things in South Carolina could get interesting, since GOP Gov. Nikki Haley vetoed a bill to allow taxpayer funding of the state’s Republican primary next February, the first such contest held in the South. She expects the political parties to foot the bill.
-- Kate O’Hare
Media critic Kate O’Hare is a regular Ticket contributor. She also blogs about TV at Hot Cuppa TV and is a frequent contributor at entertainment-news site Zap2it. Also follow O’Hare on Twitter @KateOH
Don’t forget to follow The Ticket via Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or click this: @latimestot. Our Facebook Like page is over here. We’re also available on Kindle. Use the ReTweet buttons above to share any item with family and friends.
Victory Film Group (‘The Undefeated’ poster)
Andrew Malcolm is on vacation