By Mike Kaszuba
U.S. Rep. Michele Bachman, filing for re-election Monday in St. Paul, had much to say about the Tea Party movement, the problems with "Obamacare" and Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, whom she said she would be "honored" to help campaign for.
But the Minnesota Congresswoman, who is no stranger to controversy, would not comment on another Republican drawing his own share of controversy, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Rand Paul from Kentucky. Paul, a leading voice of the Tea Party movement, scored a surprising victory last week in capturing the party's U.S. Senate nomination. In interviews, Paul suggested the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964 was too broad and should not be applied to private businesses, such as luncheonettes.
"I'm not commenting on Rand Paul," said Bachmann, speaking to reporters at the State Capitol. "I've got to focus on my race."
On the Tea Party movement: "There's been a tremendous energy and confluence of people that have come together. . .a lot of those [Tea Party members] have been absorbing themselves into the Republican Party base. . .there's been a tremendous joining up together of both the Republican Party and the Tea Party. . .in my opinion, I see maybe a 70 percent level of agreement on issues [between Republican and Tea Party members]. . .but that's enough."
On what small restaurant owners are telling her about the consequences of national health care: "One guy this weekend had 60 employees and he told me he has to shed so he gets below 50, because of 'Obamacare'. Because if he goes over 50 employees, he'll have to pay a $2,000 price tag per head to the federal government as a fine. . .[he told me], 'That means I would have to charge $5 a taco. Well, I might as well go out of business.' "
[Bachmann was referring to a provision in the new national health care law that states that, starting in 2014, 'large' businesses with employees receiving taxpayer-funded health assistance will pay an assessment to help offset the cost of those subsidies. The assessment: $2,000 per full-time worker. A 'large' business is defined as one with more than 50 full-time employees, not counting seasonal workers].
On Republican gubernatorial front runner Tom Emmer: "I'm not endorsing anyone. . .[but] I am more than honored to help Tom Emmer. . .he's very common sense."
On continuing her regular appearances on CNN's Larry King and other high-profile media outlets: "I have a tremendous platform and an opportunity to get a conservative voice out in the national airwaves. If anything, the people out in my district are extremely grateful. . .I think that it gives fits to the opposition because I take them on."