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In a switch, GOP's Michele Bachmann talks of empathy

June 16, 2011|By James Oliphant
(Shannon Stapleton/Reuters )

In her first televised interview since declaring her presidential candidacy, Michele Bachmann accused President Obama of having a “shocking" lack of empathy toward Americans victimized by the struggling economy.

“I talk to people. I care about people,” the Minnesota Republican told Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity Wednesday evening. “The president has no understanding of what is happening in real people's lives.” 

Coming off a debate performance in New Hampshire earlier this week for which was generally given high marks, Bachmann has edged her way into the  White House conversation. And because of her dual appeal to social and fiscal conservatives, her candidacy, especially in states such as Iowa and South Carolina, is being watched with growing interest.

Bachmann has been highlighting her experience both in the House, as a member of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, and her work as a tax lawyer—perhaps as a means to counter the tendency for many political observers to view her as simply a less bombastic and more disciplined version of Sarah Palin.

But her decision to address Obama’s purported lack of empathy is notable—largely because Bachmann emerged into public notoriety as a vanguard of the slash-and-burn “tea party” movement, which largely took a mistrustful view of government in any context. Moreover, the term “empathy” is one that has long been derided by conservatives.

It’s a sign that she, along with Mitt Romney and her other rivals for the GOP nomination, view the economy, and especially the unemployment rate, as the incumbent’s biggest weakness, and that forging a connection with voters unhappy with the country's direction will be the key to victory.

Toward that end, it's just the beginning of what promises to be a concerted Republican effort to frame Obama in a manner similar to the way George H.W. Bush was brought down by Bill Clinton and Democrats in 1992.

In the interview, Bachmann also called the president “out of touch,” saying “he has no basis of understanding how to deal with the economy.”

Watch the interview here:  

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