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Bachmann jokes of spending, Norwegian mafia; Boehner unafraid

Quote of the Day: “This sounds like a light-hearted exchange, and I don’t think the Speaker is concerned that he’ll winding up ‘sleeping with the lutefisk’ at the hands of the Norwegian mafia.” -- Michael Steel, spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH).

From NBC’s Luke Russert and Catherine Chomiak
In an interview today on a Des Moines, Iowa, radio station, Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) awkwardly laughed when conservative Iowa radio host Jan Mickelson of 1040 WHO Radio made a mafia joke and asked what should be done to Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) if the House GOP does not strike funds used for the implementation of President Obama’s health-care reform legislation from an upcoming government funding bill. Mickelson seemed to joke about physical retribution.

The Exchange:

MICKELSON: You have the votes to pull the plug on the funding?

BACHMANN: We are working, we're trying to work with Republicans to get them on board with us.

MICKELSON: Why would you have to work with Republicans?!

BACHMANN: Well, because what it would mean is a showdown with President Obama. We would have to go toe to toe, eyeball to eyeball.

MICKELSON: Isn't that what we sorta sent you guys there.

BACHMANN: Of course, and Congressman King (Rep. Steve King R-IA) and I say now is the time to have the fight. We have the fight with President Obama.

MICKELSON: Is your Leadership this biggest impediment over this? Is Boehner a problem?

BACHMANN: We need to get the Republicans on board. We are talking to leadership.

MICKELSON: Is that a yes? (laughs)

BACHMANN: We are talking to leadership and we're telling leadership...

MICKLESON: I'm not really trying to get you in trouble, but...

BACHMANN: (laughs) Thank you Jan. I do appreciate your sensitivity to that. The most important thing right now is that we try to save the country by getting rid of this funding.

MICKELSON: So, what do you want to do to Boehner? We know people who know people.

BACHMANN: (laughs) What I want to do is to is to be able to get them to start fighting President Obama and defunding Obamacare.

MICKELSON: A little known fact, that Norwegians have a mafia.

BACHMANN: Ooooh, and we are tough, tough people.

MICKELSON: Not really fast moving uhh

BOTH: (laugh)

Boehner spokesman Michael Steel saw the remarks as jocular saying to NBC News: “This sounds like a light-hearted exchange, and I don’t think the Speaker is concerned that he’ll winding up ‘sleeping with the lutefisk’ at the hands of the Norwegian mafia.”

There has been friction between the House GOP Leadership and Rep. Bachmann since the November mid-terms. Prior to the massive Republican victory, Bachmann was unwilling to commit to voting for Boehner as Speaker of the House due to questions about his conservatism. Bachmann also attempted to run for the Chairmanship of the House GOP Conference against Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), who was supported by Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA).

Last week, Bachmann expressed displeasure with House GOP leaders for not committing to cutting all government funds used to implement the nation’s health-care reform law, saying to National Journal, “I think there's going to be a fake appeasement with the Planned Parenthood thing and a fake appeasement with the 'Obamacare' thing."

House conservatives have been adamant that all funding needed for the new law be stripped of any spending bills that keep the government running. If the House GOP leadership were to do such a thing, it would be a non-starter in the Democratically controlled Senate and, thus, bolster the possibility of a government shutdown -- something that could reflect poorly politically on the GOP in 2012.

But leadership on both sides emphasize they are not interested in a shutdown.