Behind the scenes in ‘Bachmannistan’

Updated

In August of 2011 Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann became the first woman ever to win the famous Iowa Ames presidential straw poll. For a moment it looked like she could win the 2012 Republican nomination.

But the Tea Party darling ultimately left the presidential campaign after a crushing 6th place finish in the Iowa caucuses. Bachmann’s results have called into question the legitimacy of the Ames straw poll all together.

“It’s a stunning reversal of fortunes,” said NBC’s James Novogrod, who was a reporter embedded on the Bachmann campaign in 2011 and 2012. “To go from winning the straw poll and less than 6 months later finishing last among the competitors in the caucuses,” he said.

Bachmann is currently under investigation for campaign finance activities by the Office of Congressional Ethics, the Federal Election Commission, the Iowa Senate Ethics Committee, the Urbandale Iowa Police Department, and according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the FBI. 

In May of 2013, the four-term congresswoman released an eight minute and 40 second video announcing her decision not to seek a fifth term representing Minnesota’s 6th District.

The latest blow to her image came on Monday evening when a privately published e-publication, entitled Bachmannistan, authored by a former Bachmann campaign staffer Peter Waldron and co-author by John Gilmore, was released, trashing the one-time presidential candidate.

“This is a story of someone, who in some ways, her message of toughness and plainness, and as a daughter of Waterloo, IA, didn’t necessarily comport with some of her behavior,” said Novogrod.

The book details the constant tensions and clashes between the faith-based grassroots advisers and the DC political class of consultants Bachmann brought on to the campaign, most famously Reagan campaign manager Ed Rollins.

“Bachman is a woman full of contradictions,” said Novogrod.  “For someone who preached a Christian message of togetherness and empathy, she was surprisingly aloof and imperious as a candidate.”

The book also describes the grip that Iowa has on the primary process and the dash to win the straw poll, which has proven to be an unnecessary and monumental expense. It  provides an explanation about how millions of evangelicals lost their faith in a woman whom many initially saw as a “perfect candidate.”

“To many on her staff and to many in her natural constituency, the evangelical voting bloc in Iowa for example, Michelle Bachmann represented something very pure,” said Novogrod. “Some of them would have agreed to work for her without being paid, and in fact they did at the end of the campaign when they were told they wouldn’t be paid because the finances were so bad,” he said.

Bachmann was made famous for her exchange with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews on his show Hardball in October 2008:

MATTHEWS: How many are anti-American in the Congress right now that you serve with?

REP. BACHMANN: You’d have to ask them, Chris. I’m focusing on Barack Obama and the people that he’s been associating with. And I’m very worried about –

MATTHEWS: But do you suspect that a lot of people you serve with –

REP. BACHMANN: – their anti-American nature.

MATTHEWS: Well, he’s a United States senator from Illinois. He’s one of the people you suspect as being anti-American. How many people in the Congress of the United States do you think are anti- American? You’ve already suspected Barack Obama. Is he alone, or are there others? How many do you suspect of your colleagues as being anti-American?

REP. BACHMANN: What I would say – what I would say is that the news media should do a penetrating expose and take a look. I wish they would. I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out, are they pro-America or anti-America? I think people would love to see an expose like that.

MATTHEWS: Okay, thank you very much, U.S. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann of Minnesota.

Behind the scenes in 'Bachmannistan'

Updated