Bachmann sidelines CNN’s attempts to paint her as an extremist

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Ames Straw Poll winner Michele Bachmann deflected repeated suggestions that she is an extremist candidate.

“I’ve not gone to one place … where people say, ‘Oh, please raise my taxes,’” the Minnesota congresswoman told host Candy Crowley. “It doesn’t happen, Candy.”

Crowley’s questions seemed calculated to paint Bachmann as a fringe candidate.

“What are your credentials to move towards the center?” she asked. “Tea party people are seen [in polls] as uncompromising … doesn’t that put you outside the mainstream? … The impression is that people supported by the tea party don’t compromise.”

Crowley’s questions matched the themes pushed by Democratic Party advocates, who say GOP candidates are controlled by the tea party movement, and that the movement’s agenda is inflexible. (RELATED: Michele Bachmann edges out Ron Paul for victory in Iowa Straw Poll)

This criticism was boosted recently by a New York Times poll, which showed a large drop in support for the tea party movement since April. That poll has been criticized for including too few conservative respondents.

In response to Crowley’s questions, Bachmann responded carefully but firmly. She said she was elected in a swing district in a Democratic-leaning state, and that “we’ve been able to attract a lot of people to vote for me who are Democrats or independents.”

The tea party movement has “a pretty mainstream agenda” because Americans believe federal government spending is out of control, she said.

Asked by Crowley to identify an area where she has compromised, Bachmann smiled and said,, “on big issues, I don’t compromise, I don’t compromise on my core principles.’”

Crowley also asked her to identify her legislative accomplishments. The House of Representatives has been under Democratic control during much of her term on the Hill, Bachmann said, so “what I brag about most is what I was able to accomplish [as a state representative] when I was in Minnesota,“ including education reform, she said.

Pressed by Crowley about the White House’s successful push to end the military’s “don’t-ask, don’t tell” policy, Bachmann said she would likely revive the policy if she were elected president. “The ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy worked very well … yes, I probably would” revive the policy, she said.

“People in Iowa sent a message loud and clear to President [Barack] Obama,” she concluded: ‘We are done with your policies, we want something different.’”