During a press availability following a speech in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, Friday, Michele Bachmann was asked about a narrative that hasn’t gone away during the seven weeks she has been a presidential candidate: verbal gaffes.
“When you speak six times a day, slip-ups can occur,” Bachmann said.
The comment is the most frank Bachmann has been to date about a series of statements, dating prior to her announcement for president, that have caught notice by the public and in some cases have provoked clarifications from the candidate or her staff.
Appearing as a guest Thursday on a conservative talk radio show, Bachmann made reference to the cold war during a discussion of America’s modern-day position in the world. “There’s a fear that the United States is in an unstoppable decline,” Bachmann said. “They see the rise of China, the rise of India, the rise of the Soviet Union and our loss militarily going forward.”
Bachmann, of course, meant Russia – the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991.
Earlier this week, at an event in Greenville, South Carolina, Bachmann asked the audience to celebrate Elvis Presley’s birthday. Her tour bus had just pulled into the event, timed to the opening bars of the campaign theme, the Elvis song “Promise Land.”
“You can’t do better than Elvis Presley,” Bachmann said, “and we thought we’d celebrate his birthday as we get started celebrating the ‘Take Our Country Back’ tour.” It was, however, the anniversary of Elvis’s death – a fact that Bachmann corrected during a media availability following the event. (Her campaign tells NBC News that Bachmann simply misspoke; that she is a lifelong fan of Elvis, and chose the campaign theme song herself.)
Despite the correction, the gaffes have renewed attention on earlier misstatements at a moment – one week after Bachmann’s win at the Ames, Iowa Straw Poll – when the campaign had been poised to move beyond them. Prior to running for president, Bachmann made news in March during a visit to a Manchester, N.H., school, where she told a group of students, “You’re the state where the shot was heard around the world in Lexington and Concord.’’
Bachmann appeared to be referring to the first shots of the Revolutionary War, which occurred in Massachusetts.
Friday, Bachmann corrected her statement on global affairs, saying, “We all know that it’s Russia, it’s not the Soviet Union.”
During her press availability Bachmann also referred to her mention this week of Enron, the Texas-based energy company that went bankrupt in 2001 amid a fraud scandal. Speaking about the federal debt at an event in Columbia, SC, Thursday, Bachmann said: “ever heard of Enron? You get shut down when you don’t pay your bills.”
The comparison – between the federal government on one hand, and, on the other hand, a company whose executives had been sent to prison – was first reported by NBC News. During her media availability Friday, Bachmann said of Enron: “I didn’t say that it was debt that took them down, I made a statement that this was a company that had accounting problems.”
Bachmann also attributed interest in her misstatements to the news media, arguing that voters are looking for solutions to real-world problems.
"The main thing people focus on in every single venue that I've been to is the economy and job creation," she said.