Hardball with Chris Matthews, 3/19/13, 8:00 PM ET

Sideshow: Bachmann on the loose

Obama celebrates St. Patrick’s Day, Biden honors the pope, Bachmann flees from reporters, and the Westboro Baptist Church has a new view out their window.

Watch: Bachmann dodges questions about her own speech

Updated
By Maryalice Aymong

Why is Minnesota Michele Bachmann running from her own statements? As in literally running away from CNN’s Dana Bash, who attempted to follow up with Bachmann on some of her recent remarks.

Bachmann was a featured speaker at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference. Bachmann’s speech didn’t just draw the attention of enthusiastic CPAC audience members. Fact-checkers at The Washington Post also took note. One of the portions that caught their attention was this:

“A new book is out talking about the perks and the excess of the $1.4-billion-a-year presidency that we’re paying for. And this is a lifestyle that is one of excess. Now we find out that there are five chefs on Air Force One. There are two projectionists who operate the White House movie theater. They regularly sleep at the White House in order to be readily available in case the first family wants a really, really late show. And I don’t mean to be petty here, but can’t they just push the play button? We are also the ones who are paying for someone to walk the president’s dog, paying for someone to walk the president’s dog? Now, why are we doing that when we can’t even get a disabled veteran into the White House for a White House tour?”


The $1.4 billion figure that is presented in the book Bachmann references is far from a detailed breakdown of “perks and excesses” racked up by the president and his family. In fact, the figure includes costs associated with protecting the president in addition to other staffing.

Then there’s the mention of a presidential dogwalker. This appears to refer to the White House groundskeeper, Dale Haney. According to the Associated Press, Haney has “tended to every White House pup since King Timahoe, Richard Nixon’s Irish setter.” So being at Bo’s beck-and-call hardly qualifies as Haney’s job description.

The bottom line is this. The Obama administration did not arrive at the White House with an influx of staff members that did not exist in the previous administration, and any suggestion that President Obama has introduced all sorts of new perks to his position is false.

This is not the first time Michele Bachmann has entered the realm of factually-challenged assertions. In 2010, she suggested that President Obama’s trip to India was costing taxpayers $200 million per day. This turned out to be a massively inflated figure, based on an unsubstantiated report from an anonymous source on an Indian news website. During her own bid for the White House, Bachmann floated the idea that the HPV vaccine could lead to mental retardation.

Take a look at the Hardball Sideshow to catch Bachmann’s encounter with Dana Bash, which left both women out of breath and Bachmann struggling to change the subject.

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Watch: Bachmann dodges questions about her own speech

Updated