The Fine Print
Rep. Michele Bachmann is “sorry” that Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed a controversial bill in Arizona that would have allowed businesses to legally refuse service to same-sex couples because of religious objections.
“I believe that tolerance is a two-way street, and we need to respect everyone's rights, including the rights of people who have sincerely held religious beliefs,” Bachmann, a Minnesota Republican told “The Fine Print.”
Many prominent Republicans, including former Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Sen. John McCain of Arizona have backed Brewer’s decision to veto the bill, but the tea party leader said they are wrong on this issue.
“Religious liberties and the protection of our religious liberties is right,” she said. “Right now, there's a terrible intolerance afoot in the United States, and it's against people who hold sincerely held religious beliefs.”
Bachmann was recently quoted as saying that she doesn’t believe there’s a “pent-up desire” for a female president. When asked about the remark, Bachmann said her position comes from her own experience as a presidential candidate in the Republican 2012 presidential primary.
“Obviously, I believe that a woman can be president; I believe that a woman will be president,” she said. “I just don't think that it will be Hillary Clinton for obvious reasons. She's proved that she would be incapable of being commander-in-chief. She's the godmother of Obamacare, and she represents the third term of a Barack Obama presidency.”
On the topic of 2016, Bachmann said there are many Republicans presidential hopefuls who, “without a shadow of a doubt,” could go head-to-head with the former secretary of state in a presidential contest.
“There's a lot of them out there … but I think it would be a real mistake to focus on 2016,” she said. “We've got the 2014 election in front of us, just months away. We need to focus on that because that will change the table, rearrange the table here in Washington.”
Though she is not personally seeking reelection this year, Bachmann forecasts that Republicans will have a strong showing in the midterm elections and gain a majority in the Senate -- a prediction that she credits in part to President Obama, who she says has “fundamentally transformed” the country in a way that’s unrecognizable.
“We didn't' want a third world nation; we don't want a so-called banana republic,” she said. “We want to be the economic powerhouse of the world. We want to be the military powerhouse of the world and President Obama is gutting us on both of those fronts … that's why I think President Obama and his party are going to do very poorly at the polls this fall.”
The congresswoman, who is credited with helping to start the tea party in Congress five years ago, rejected the notion that the Republican establishment and tea party are at war with one another, and said the party should work toward unity as it progresses into the election year.
“What we're trying to do is embrace each other as much as we can because the greatest politician of modern times was Ronald Reagan, and his advice was find someone who you can agree with 80 percent of the time and agree with them,” Bachmann said. “And we've got that between the tea party and the so-called establishment.”
Some tea party groups have called for a primary challenge to Speaker John Boehner, even holding a contest to find a candidate. She said she did not support such a move and said it’s time for the conservative activists to be more pragmatic in picking their battles.
“I really think that the bigger issue that we'll be focused on by Republicans, by conservatives, and by tea partiers will be the challenge to Harry Reid in the senate as opposed to John Boehner,” Bachmann said. “Right now, the House of Representatives is in conservative hands. That's really the goal. And we have to keep our eye on the prize.”
For more of the interview with Bachmann, including what she points to as the tea party’s major accomplishment over the last five years, check out this episode of “The Fine Print.”
ABC News’ Betsy Klein, Alexandra Dukakis, Tom Thornton, Chris Carlson, and Mary Quinn contributed to this episode.