UPDATE: Michele Bachmann defended her presidential campaign on Tuesday after making a gaffe in which she incorrectly claimed she shared a hometown with the actor John Wayne, a verbal slip up that left many wondering whether she was confused with “clown killer” John Wayne Gacy.
“The main point that I was making are the sensibilities of John Wayne, which is patriotism, love of country standing up for our nation,” Bachmann explained to CNN. “That positive enthusiasm is what America’s all about, and that’s of course my main point.”
On Monday, Bachmann formally announced her 2012 campaign at a political rally in her birthplace of Waterloo, Iowa. But the official rollout was largely overshadowed by her erroneous claim that John Wayne was also born in the same small town. “John Wayne was from Waterloo, Iowa,” she said in an interview with Fox News. “That's the kind of spirit that I have, too."
But as many observers were quick to note, John Wayne was born a three-hour drive away in Winterset, Iowa. (Although, it should also be noted that Wayne’s parents did meet in Waterloo, giving the town at least a small claim to the actor's legacy.) Her comments led to speculation that she had confused the Hollywood actor with the 1970s serial killer John Wayne Gacy, who had his first criminal conviction in Waterloo.
Bachmann has a history of attention-grabbing gaffes. In January, she made headlines when she claimed that the founding fathers “worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States.”
In March, she said during a speech in New Hampshire: “You’re the state where the shot was heard around the world in Lexington and Concord.” (Lexington and Concord are in Massachusetts.)
But in Tuesday’s CNN interview, Bachmann made the case that the mistakes she’s made so far have been no more than verbal stumbles, and nothing to get worked up about.
When asked about a survey by PolitiFact.com, which found that she has made at least 18 untrue public statements, she responded: “Of course they were just misspeaking, and that happens. People can make mistakes, and I wish I could be perfect every time I say something, but I can’t. But one thing people know about me is that I’m a substantive, serious person.”
UPDATED Monday at 2:36 p.m.: Michele Bachmann spent plenty of time Monday letting everyone know that she was born in Waterloo, Iowa, a small industrial town she credits with instilling within her many of her conservative ideals.
But in one interview surrounding her formal campaign rollout, the Tea Party favorite seems to have gotten a little confused about some of the finer points of the Hawkeye State’s history.
Speaking to Fox News, Bachmann said that she had the same spirit as Waterloo’s own John Wayne. One can only assume that she was referring to the movie star, who was born in Winterset, Iowa, roughly a three-hour drive from Waterloo. The problem, however, is that Waterloo appears to have much closer ties to serial killer John Wayne Gacy, the "killer clown" who had his first criminal conviction there.
The Washington Times with the details:
Gacy, though, had his first taste of the criminal life in Waterloo, where he lived for a short time, and where he had his first criminal conviction for an attempted homosexual assault, which landed him in prison for 18 months.
He would move back to Illinois, where his killing spree started, and lasted about six years. In 1980 he was convicted on 33 counts of murder, and was executed in 1994.
Here was the quote in question:
"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," she said.
Slate's David Weigel does a little digging and concludes that while John Wayne may not be from Waterloo, his parents did meet there, giving the town at least a small claim to the movie star's legacy.
"Bachmann's problem, if we even want to call it that, is that she's been hopelessly defined as a gaffe-machine who flubs silly things," writes Weigel. "But she didn't pull this out of thin air! Waterloo has more of a claim on John Wayne than most other towns in America, excepting Winterset, Iowa and Los Angeles."
Watch the video here:
Original post at 11:14 a.m.: Michele Bachmann on Monday officially kicked off her presidential bid using an Iowa campaign rally to tout her local ties, her small government bona fides and her Christian faith.
“I want my candidacy for the presidency to stand for the moment when ‘we the people’ reclaimed our independence from a government that has gotten too big, spends too much and has taken away too much of our liberty,” Bachmann said in Waterloo, a small industrial town where she was born.
Bachmann has been on a bit of a hot streak since earlier this month when she used the first major Republican presidential debate to make it clear that she was entering the GOP field.
Over the weekend she scored a substantial victory by running a close second to Mitt Romney in a Des Moines Register poll of likely Iowa Republicans. Herman Cain was the only other GOP contender to garner double-digit support.
Given her conservative track record, Bachmann is seen as a key player in Iowa, a state where Romney and other more moderate GOP contenders have been less engaged.
The Minnesota congresswoman wasted little time Monday playing up her ties to the Hawkeye State.
“Everything I need to know, I learned in Iowa,” she told the crowd. “This is where my Iowa roots were firmly planted, and it’s these Iowa roots and my faith in God that guides me today.”
Bachmann made multiple mentions to her Christian faith during her morning announcement, saying that she is “profoundly grateful for the blessings that I have received both from God and from this great country,” and that “every American deserves these blessings.”
While a politician name-dropping the Almighty is far from a stunner, Bachmann’s comments were notable because they come one day after she told CBS News that she got “a sense from God” that she should run for the White House.
"I am a Christian, as is my husband. I became a Christian when I was 16 years old. I gave my heart to Jesus Christ," she told CBS. "Since that time, I've been a person of prayer. And so when I pray, I pray believing that God will speak to me and give me an answer to that prayer."