Michele Bachmann Gets The New Hampshire Treatment

Oct 10, 2011 2:33pm

ABC News’ Michael Falcone and Arlette Saenz report:

HENNIKER, N.H. — Michele Bachmann encountered one of the faces of resistance to her presidential bid in New Hampshire on Monday — a face that was nearly toothless.

At a town hall-style meeting, a staple of presidential politics here, Greg S. Goldberg of nearby Bradford, N.H. told the Minnesota congresswoman about his painful problem: “My teeth are going insane, I can’t even go and get them fixed. Why wouldn’t it be better to go on a single-payer system like there currently is in Vermont and Montana?”

Bachmann rejected Goldberg’s suggestion.

“You want socialized medicine,” she told him. “That’s what you want.”

But Goldberg, a Democrat who manages his father’s furniture store, pressed the Republican presidential hopeful: “I have no teeth right now.”

Again, Bachmann was unmoved: “If you’re indigent,” she told the man, “there are programs set up for the indigent.”

“I want you to have the best dental healthcare you can have,” she added. ”That’s why I don’t want you to have socialized medicine.  That would be the worst possible system you could have.  The free market provides you with the best system and we have charitable organizations and there’s universities who are willing to take people who are indigent.”

Goldberg, who displayed his not-so-pearly whites to a reporter after the event, was among several voters who asked Bachmann tough questions on her second consecutive day campaigning in New Hampshire. Her last visit to the important early primary state was in late July, and since then, she has been focusing her efforts on Iowa, a state that her aides have acknowledged is a must-win.

Bachmann held her only public event of the day at New England College in the leafy central New Hampshire town of Henniker where another member of the audience asked whether she agreed that members of the Occupy Wall Street movement have something in common with the Tea Party.

“I don’t think that they’re similar to the Tea Party at all,” Bachmann said. “I ran across two of the protests in Washington, DC and one in Boston and they are nothing in common at all with” Tea Party agitators.

She added, “I think that if the Occupy Wall Street wants to be upset about something they should go in front of the White House.”

Another voter extolled the virtues of government bailouts of the financial system and the automobile industry.

“I personally don’t believe that the federal government has any business bailing out any private industry and I think they should to stay out of that business,” Bachmann countered. “We have a difference of opinion on that.”

Bachmann handled her inquisitors politely, and many of the other questions she fielded were much friendlier. “Am I wrong in thinking that we have a policy of accommodation, apology and appeasement toward radical Islam?” one member of the crowd asked.

“As president of the United States, I wouldn’t step one toe out of this country and apologize for the United States of America,” she said. “That would never happen.”

But the most difficult questions Bachmann is facing at the moment have less to do with policy and more with the viability of her presidential bid. Speaking to reporters after the event, she insisted that her campaign has “the resources” to go on despite her slide in the polls and reports of a diminished war chest.

She declined to say how much she raised during the last quarter.

“We’re pleased with it, we’re still in business,” she said of her  fundraising report, which will become public next week. “So, we’re grateful, but we’ll always take more contributions.”

Bachmann said voters in the Granite States would be seeing more of her in the weeks to come even though she spent most of the summer campaigning elsewhere.

“With the response we’re getting particularly here across New Hampshire, we feel like the campaign is just re-booting, just re-beginning,” she said. “We’ve had just wonderful response here.”

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