Tales from the Trail

The strange vogue in dumping U.S. citizenship

In 2005, a CUNY political science professor named Stanley Renshon compared citizenship without emotional attachment to “the civic equivalent of a one-night stand.”

Michele Bachmann’s fling with Switzerland lasted just 53 days – barely two of them public – before she came running back to Uncle Sam. That was right before Facebook’s co-founder Eduardo Saverin was found to have called it all off with the U.S, possibly for tax reasons.

Bachmann, who came out as Swiss to Politico on Tuesday, made headlines for deciding to split her allegiances – if only on paper – with a gay-friendly, abortion-happy Western European country. Her temporary Swissness made a farce of her fiery patriotic rhetoric, and added a cosmopolitan edge to her down-home image – an image she was counting on for her constituents to vote her back into office this coming term.

Yesterday, Bachmann declared that she had written to the Swiss government and asked them to withdraw her citizenship, which she’d acquired through her husband, Marcus. “I am and always have been 100% committed to our United States Constitution and the United States of America,” she said in a statement. “I took this action because I want to make it perfectly clear: I was born in America and I am a proud American citizen.”

Bachmann’s decision to become Swiss in the first place was a strange one – not because being a dual national is necessarily a bad thing (full disclosure: I have three passports, including one that is Swiss) but because it raised questions about the image Bachmann cultivated for years. She claimed to be naturalizing for her children’s sake, even though Swiss law does not require her to do so in order for them to acquire their own passports. She also put her eligibility for certain types of security clearance at risk, which isn’t a problem for members of Congress, but could pose complications if she ran for higher office.

Santorum staffer questions whether God wants women presidents

A staffer in Rick Santorum’s presidential campaign is under fire for an email suggesting a female commander-in-chief could be at odds with the Bible’s teachings.

The Des Moines Register last week reported that Santorum’s Iowa coalitions director, Jamie Johnson, sent an email over the summer asking, ‘Is it God’s highest desire, that is, his biblically expressed will … to have a woman rule the institutions of the family, the church, and the state?”

Michele Bachmann, a social conservative who campaigned heavily in Iowa, competed with Santorum over the conservative evangelical vote in the Iowa caucuses. She dropped out of the race after a dismal finish in the Iowa race.

New ad compares Bachmann to Thatcher

Rep. Michele Bachmann is out with a new ad comparing herself to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. While a photo of Thatcher and the text “America’s Iron Lady” flash over an image of Bachmann, a narrator says:

Born and raised in Iowa, only one candidate has been a consistent conservative fighter who fought Obamacare, who fought increasing our debt ceiling – even as other Republicans were cutting deals with Obama.

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Bachmann, who now represents a Minnesota congressional district, has spent a lot of time touting her Iowa birthplace ahead of the state’s first-in-the-nation presidential caucus. Perhaps most famously, she mistakenly claimed that she and actor John Wayne shared the same hometown — when in fact it was serial killer and rapist John Wayne Gacy who grew up in Bachmann’s birthplace of Waterloo.

Roemer camp pressures networks, pollsters in search of “Roementum”

Former Louisiana governor and Republican presidential hopeful Buddy Roemer is turning up the heat on his opponents: polling companies and national television networks. Roemer, who was in Congress longer than Michele Bachmann and was a governor for as long as Mitt Romney, has yet to be invited to a single Republican debate. That’s because the national television networks determine who gets invited to their debates based on a shifting set of polling criteria, and they have yet to

Bachmann’s former Iowa chair denies taking money from Paul

Michele Bachmann didn’t want this to be the dominant story about her campaign less than a week out from the Iowa caucuses. After Iowa State Sen. Kent Sorenson, Bachmann’s Iowa campaign chairman, resigned and switched his allegiance to Ron Paul, Bachmann accused Sorenson of selling out for money. She told reporters:

I had a conversation with Kent Sorenson, and in the direct conversation that I had with him, he told me that he was offered money, he was offered a lot of money by the Ron Paul campaign to go and associate with the Ron Paul campaign. No one else knows about that conversation other than Kent Sorenson and myself.

Sorenson responded in an interview with CNN:

That conversation never happened. As much respect as I have for Michele, the fact of the matter is it just didn’t happen and I think it’s unfortunate they’re resorting to these type of tactics.

Perry attacks more conservative rivals, ignores Romney

Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s latest ads don’t even bother attacking Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney. With polls showing him in fifth place among Republicans in Iowa and seventh in New Hampshire, Perry’s aim is now to emerge as one of the top two conservative options to Romney.

To get there, he needs to knock off some of the other candidates polling immediately in front of him — which is why his latest TV ad in Iowa attacks Rep. Ron Paul, Rep. Michele Bachmann, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and ex-Sen. Rick Santorum, but doesn’t mention Romney.

“The fox guarding the hen house is like asking a congressman to fix Washington,” the ad’s narrator says. “Bad idea. Their years in Congress left us with debt and bailouts.”

from Political Theater:

Ron Paul says Michele Bachmann “hates Muslims”

Ron Paul was on The Tonight Show last night, where Jay Leno asked him to say a little something about the other Republican candidates for president. Mitt Romney, according to Paul, is "a nice guy." Newt Gingrich should "run for Speaker of the House again," and Jon Huntsman is "a good diplomat" and " a thoughtful person."

And Michele Bachmann? Well, "she doesn't like Muslims," Paul said. "She hates Muslims. She wants to go get 'em." Rick Santorum, too, has a preoccupation with "gay people and Muslims."

Here's the clip:

Best of the debate: Ron Paul v. Michele Bachmann

Presidential debates allow voters to hear how candidates differ, and there are few policy differences as great as that between Rep. Ron Paul and Rep. Michele Bachmann on Iran. Take this exchange from last night:

Bachmann:

“Without a shadow of a doubt, Iran will take a nuclear weapon, they will use it to wipe our ally Israel off the face of the map and they’ve stated they will use it against the United States of America.”

For what it’s worth, Politifact has looked into Bachmann’s claim and rated it “false.”

“I am a serious candidate,” Michele Bachmann says


Bachmann answers questions in front of her bus before the start of her 99 county tour of Iowa in Sioux City, Iowa, December 16, 2011. REUTERS/Jeff Haynes

SIOUX CITY – Michele Bachmann wants some respect, especially from Newt Gingrich.

For two days in a row the sole woman in the Republican presidential campaign has demanded that she be respected as a serious candidate for president.

Highlights from the GOP Thanksgiving Family Forum

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Six of the Republican presidential candidates met at the First Federated Church in Des Moines, Iowa, last night for a dinnertime “family discussion” at the Thanksgiving Family Forum. Gathered around a wooden table garnished with a centerpiece of artificial pumpkins, moderator Frank Luntz asked Michelle Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum about their views on social issues, morality, personal responsibility, and God. Neither of the two Mormon candidates, Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman, were in attendance. Here are some of the most memorable moments:

1. Gingrich tells OWS: “Go get a job — right after you take a bath.”

Asked about the role of personal responsibility in society, Gingrich quoted John Smith (of Pocahontas fame): “In 1607 in the first English speaking permanent colony, [Smith said] to the aristocrats who had paid their way and didn’t want to work: ‘If you don’t work, you won’t eat.’”

The same principle, he said, should apply to Occupy Wall Street protesters, all of whom “start with a premise that we all owe them everything.”