Bachmann flubs her John Wayne nod

John Wayne and John Wayne Gacy
John Wayne and John Wayne Gacy

Rep. Michele Bachmann officially launched her bid for the White House today in her birthplace of Waterloo, Iowa. She’s casting herself as the “bold choice” for 2012, a champion of tea party causes. A new poll taken by the Des Moines Register even shows the Minnesota congresswoman in the front of the pack among GOP contenders.

But, her newest gaffe is somewhat overshadowing the announcement of her White House bid. Bachmann told Fox News she hopes to channel the “spirit” of John Wayne, another famous Iowan. She said, “Well, what I want them to know is just like, John Wayne was from Waterloo, Iowa. That’s the kind of spirit that I have, too.”

Here’s where her reference gets all wonky. Actor John Wayne, the ultimate Hollywood cowboy, was born in Winterset (the town where “The Bridges of Madison County” took place). However, it was John Wayne Gacy — a man convicted of raping and murdering at least 33 boys in the ‘70s — who was actually from Waterloo. It’s an unfortunate mistake.

Where did she get this tie in the first place? According the Politico, she might have been thinking of Wayne’s parents, who did, in fact, have small a Waterloo connection.

The executive director of the John Wayne Birthplace Museum in Winterset didn’t have as much sympathy for the location mix-up. “It’s hard to miss,” he told TPM. “We’re only 25 minutes from Des Moines, and we’re at the intersection of two major interstates. Those highway signs are marked clearly.”