Bachmann expands on spending policies, paints opponents as "frugal socialists"

Republican presidential hopeful U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., speaks during the Iowa Republican Party's Ronald Reagan Dinner, Friday, Nov. 4, 2011, in Des Moines, Iowa. Michele Bachmann, Iowa

Republican presidential hopeful U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., speaks during the Iowa Republican Party's Ronald Reagan Dinner, Friday, Nov. 4, 2011, in Des Moines, Iowa.
Michele Bachmann, Iowa
WASHINGTON - Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., clarified the conditions under which she would demand a balanced budget from Congress and pledged to cut off foreign aid to countries that hold U.S. treasury bonds, while taking aim at some of her fellow candidates as "frugal socialists" in a Monday speech to the Family Research Council.

Bachmann expanded on previous policy positions, in which she has pledged to send balanced budgets to Congress. But in a move that is likely built on her efforts to shore up her foreign policy chops, Bachmann said Monday she would never send Congress an unbalanced budget - "except in times of declared war."

The move would allow Bachmann more leeway in discussing how she might wage a war as commander in chief. She criticized President Obama for his handling of both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, telling the audience of roughly 40 people that Obama "has not listened to his troops on the ground. He has not listened to General Austin in Iraq. He has listened to General Axelrod in Chicago," referring to Obama's strategist David Axelrod.

The Family Research Council speech is one of a series of recent events for Bachmann aimed at maintaining her support among religious conservatives, a group she hopes can propel her ahead of her opponents as her campaign has lost steam in recent months.

Bachmann also pledged to stop sending aid to any countries like China, Mexico and Egypt that owned U.S. treasury bonds. "China owns over $1.2 trillion in these bonds. This is a significant portion of our national debt," Bachmann said. "Yet we are giving aid to China? Giving money away for free to the nations that own our debt instruments? Have we absolutely lost our minds? It's like giving your banker a large gift while he still holds our unpaid mortgage."

The candidate had harsh words for her fellow opponents, whom she accused of being "frugal socialists."

"We can't preserve liberty for ourselves and our posterity if the choice in next November is between a frugal socialist and an out-of-control socialist," Bachmann said. When a reporter asked her who she was referring to, she joked, "You see, that's part of the puzzle that you figure out when I give the speech. Good try!" she said as the audience chuckled.

Her criticism was mostly directed at fellow candidates Mitt Romney, Rick Perry and Herman Cain, though Bachmann did not name names. Of Perry and Romney, Bachmann said that some candidates have "naively" pledged to use waivers or executive orders to repeal Obama's healthcare law - two options that Romney and Perry have proposed.

In a thinly veiled reference to Cain's varying statements about his pro-life stance - he has both said government shouldn't tell people how to handle social decisions as well as saying abortion should be outlawed - Bachmann said, "I'll never be confused about that issue, and you won't find YouTube clips with me advocating anything else."

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    Rebecca Kaplan covers the 2012 presidential campaign for CBS News and National Journal.

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