It took about twelve seconds as an official candidate for president for Michele Bachmann to
say get caught saying something unintentionally hilarious. Speaking to Fox News shortly after on Sunday before her announcement in Waterloo, Iowa, earlier today, Bachmann said, "What I want them to know is that, just like John Wayne is from Waterloo, Iowa, that's the kind of spirit that I have too." As the Washington Times pointed out, movie star John Wayne was born in Iowa but Winterset, Iowa, which is about 140 miles from Waterloo. There was, however, a famous John Wayne who used to live in Waterloo. His name was John Wayne Gacy, and he was a terrifying clown who raped and murdered 33 young men in the seventies, which is about as far from "heroic cowboy" as you can get.
As far as we can tell, there are three things that could have happened here:
Bachmann knows movie star John Wayne was born in Winterset, and she just mixed up her three-syllabled Iowa towns that start with the letter W.
Bachmann meant to say, "Just like John Wayne is from Iowa," and she just had Waterloo on the mind.
An intern who had one eye on True Blood while Googling famous Iowans last night gave Bachmann some bad information. This may have been the same intern who told Bachmann that the battles of Lexington and Concord were in New Hampshire.
Whatever the explanation, the slipup, while very minor, does happen to undercut the very focal point of Bachmann's Iowa campaign, which is that, as a native-born Iowan, her intimate familiarity with Iowa is unparalleled.
The wrong John Wayne [Inside Politics/Washington Times]
Update: Bachmann repeated the mistake to NBC News, so it wasn't a matter of misspeaking.
"I'm not pining for nostalgia back in the 50s and 60s, that isn't it," she told NBC's Kelly O'Donnell. "But that sensibility about how we were grounded here is so important. For instance, another American that was born in Waterloo was John Wayne. We were a very patriotic 'yay rah rah America' city and nation and I think that's what America's looking for again."
Bachman''s campaign has pointed out that John Wayne's parents lived in Waterloo for a time, which is obviously irrelevant.