Pawlenty suggests Bachmann should answer for migraines

Rachel Rose Hartman
The Ticket

No presidential candidate has dared to suggest Michele Bachmann's history of migraines could disqualify her for the presidency. That is, until yesterday.

Fellow Minnesotan Tim Pawlenty on Wednesday suggested the congresswoman's headaches are a legitimate issue for 2012.

During a campaign stop in Iowa, former Gov. Pawlenty at first said he didn't know enough about Bachmann's condition to offer an opinion--and he deferred to medical professionals. But, then he commented anyway.

"All of the candidates, I think, are going to have to be able to demonstrate they can do all of the job all of the time," Pawlenty told reporters. "There's no real time off in that job," he said of the presidency.

On Monday, the Daily Caller reported that anonymous former staffers say Bachmann suffers incapacitating migraines on average weekly that leave her unable to work for days at a time. But Bachmann and her current team disputed the report, saying her headaches are controlled by medication and have not impeded her ability to serve.

Despite Bachmann's protestations, talk of her headaches continued this week and prompted the candidate to release a letter yesterday from Congress' attending physician stating that her migraines are "infrequent" and under control.

Though it has been much debated by pundits and discussed in the news this week, none of Bachmann's rivals, up until Pawlenty yesterday, have suggested the migraines should be a campaign issue.

Pawlenty did appear to try and walk back his comments last night on Fox's "On the Record" with Greta Van Susteren. There, he struck a more conciliatory tone on the matter saying he believes the migraine issue has become "mostly a sideshow" and added that he personally has never observed any signs of migraine problems from the congresswoman.

But compare Pawlenty's statement to that offered by Romney yesterday, who clearly defended his rival: "There's no question in my mind that Michele Bachmann's health is in no way an impediment to her being able to serve as president," Romney reportedly said during a campaign stop in California.

Pawlenty has been quick to hit out at Bachmann, who recently began placing first in national polls and remains Pawlenty's biggest competitor for next month's Iowa straw poll. Last week, he said in multiple interviews that he believes Bachmann has "no accomplishments."