"Face the Nation" transcript: December 11, 2011

Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., and Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa

Below is a rush transcript of "Face the Nation" on December 11, 2011, hosted by CBS News chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer. The guests are presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann, Republican Iowa Rep. Steve King and a political roundtable with CBS News Political Director John Dickerson and chief White House correspondent Norah O'Donnell.

SCHIEFFER: Today on Face the Nation, all roads lead to Iowa and it's a wild ride. Last night's Republican debate in Iowa was an all out brawl. And Newt Gingrich took most of the hard hits.

Michele Bachmann even gave the frontrunners a new name.


MICHELE BACHMANN, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you look at Newt Romney, they were for Obamacare principles.

RON PAUL, REPUBLICAN PRESIDNETIAL CANDIDATE: He's been on different positions, you know, on so many issues.

RICK PERRY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I've always kind of been of the opinion that if you cheat on your wife, you'll cheat on your business partner.


SCHIEFFER: Gingrich did not take it lying down.


NEWT GINGRICH, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The only reason up didn't become a career politician is you lost to Teddy Kennedy in 1994.


SCHIEFFER: Mitt Romney is betting big on himself and left no doubt about it.


MITT ROMNEY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'll tell you what. $10,000 bucks? $10,000 bet?

PERRY: I'm not in the betting business.



SCHIEFFER: In a time when many are out of work, will Romney regret that? I bet you the comics don't. They were already having a field day.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's so crazy?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Republicans are up Newt creek without a paddle.


SCHIEFFER: Believe it or not Gingrich was already flexing his muscles for Newsweek. Michele Bachmann who was on the stage last night is up early this morning to tell us why she hopes it won't be Gingrich. And we'll hear from Iowa congressman Steve King whose endorsement in the Iowa campaign could be crucial.

Plus a preview of Steve Kroft's "60 Minutes" interview with President Obama. And analysis from CBS News chief White House correspondent Norah O'Donnell and political director John Dickerson.

Then we'll have an important announcement about Face the Nation. It all starts now.

ANNOUNCER: From CBS News in Washington Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer.

SCHIEFFER: And good morning again.

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann who was on fire during the debate last night is joining us from Des Moines this morning.

Congresswoman, appreciate you getting up early to come in and be with us. I want to ask you this question, it just struck me last night watching the debate. You're a social conservative, but when Newt Gingrich's three marriages came up all the other candidates just jumped right on it. You did not make any direct criticism or reference to him about that. I just wonder why that was.

BACHMANN: Well, I was asked a question about character and what that meant for the presidency of the United States. And I went back to what the founders said, and the founders said that we needed to focus on their character. And that was my response.

SCHIEFFER: So do you think that is an important issue? And should be an issue out there on the table? His marriages?

BACHMANN: Well, I think it's one that voters will take a look at, because they want to know who the person is, what the measure of the man or the woman is. And I'm sure that that will be a factor as well.

SCHIEFFER: You know, in an interview that President Obama did with Steve Kroft this week, it's going to be seen tonight on "60 Minutes," the president said he thought all you Republican candidates were alike. Listen to this.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It doesn't really matter who the nominee is going to be. The core philosophy that they're expressing is the same, and the contrast in visions between where I want to take the country and where they say they want to take the country is going to be stark. And the American people are going to have a good choice. And it's going to be a good debate.


SCHIEFFER: You did take a slightly different line about that last night. In fact you called the two frontrunners Romney and Gingrich, you referred them at one point as Newt Romney. Are you different from them?

BACHMANN: Without a shadow of a doubt. I'm the only proven consistent constitutional conservative in this race on issue after issue, and that's what I was pointing out last night. As I was studying the candidates, especially Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, it is very clear that there's not a dime's worth of difference between the two of them, because both of them have advocated for the health care mandate. In Newt Gingrich's case for 20 years. And in Mitt Romney's case he's the only governor in the United States' history to put into place socialized medicine.

They both agree with Barack Obama. This is the seminal piece of legislation of Barack Obama. It's the one issue that our candidate has to take President Obama on with, and they won't be able to debate him on this issue because they're on the same side as the president.

But also Newt Romney are on the same side of the president when it comes to cap-and-trade, the $700 billion bailout, illegal immigration, even the payroll tax this week which there isn't one shred of evidence that that has created a single job.

So when you take a look and people say this is a two-man race, I would agree. But the one man is Newt Romney and the other man is Michele Bachmann, the only proven consistent constitutional conservative. I'm the only one that can take the debate to Barack Obama and win and be elected.

SCHIEFFER: So I'm going to separate Newt Romney into two people again just to ask you this next question.

You know, suddenly Newt Gingrich has surged to the top. And Eugene Robinson, the columnist for the Washington Post wrote the other day, "this guy is carrying more baggage than Louis Vuitton." Do you think that this baggage is going to hurt -- I mean could, if Newt Gingrich got the nomination, do you think he could take the whole party down?

BACHMANN: Well, I think there's very serious concerns about Newt Gingrich as the nominee. And this is starting to get unpacked, because again we know that he has taken over $100 million. His offices are on the Rodeo Drive of Washington called K Street. He's the king of K Street.

And so for a person who has been influence peddling for over 30 years in Washington D.C. to think that Newt Gingrich is somehow an outsider, when he's the consummate establishment insider, he's the big government candidate just like Mitt Romney is the big government candidate, that's not what we want in our nominee. It doesn't even survive the falling off the chair laughing test.

We have to have a candidate who is going to stand for our issues and our values and be a true, proven constitutional conservative.

Barack Obama knows me in Washington D.C. because I've taken him on. I've been on the tip of the spear fighting him on Obamacare, on cap-and-trade, on issue after issue. There's a clear distinction in the candidates. And I'm the proven candidate who has been tested by fire in the lion's den of Washington D.C.