On Saturday, November 12, CBS News and National Journal hosted a GOP debate on foreign policy and national security issues. Eight Republican hopefuls participated in the debate, including Michele Bachmann. However, this past week, Bachmann’s camp has accused CBS of a media bias, which has raised questions of a gender bias.
The accusation comes in response to anemail leak by CBS News political director John Dickerson. In the email, Dickerson stated that Bachmann would not receive many questions due to her lagging in the polls. The Bachmann campaign is saying the reason for this is liberal media bias. But, Bachmann’s weakness as a contender for the nomination is the real cause for the lack of media attention she has received.
Bachmann is the only female GOP challenger, but rather than using this distinction to her political advantage, she is highlighting the difference negatively by claiming an unfair bias against her. By contrast, stronger political female candidates, such as Hillary Clinton during the 2008 presidential elections, made a great media splash, despite the obvious gender difference between her and other Democratic contenders.
In November 2007, White House hopeful Senator Hillary Clinton was leading in the polls and garnering a support base of nearly 50% of Democrats for the nomination. Clinton was also the only female running for the nomination and managed to gain and hold media attention due to her clearly defined policies, competency as both a public speaker and crowd-mingler, and strength as a truly electable candidate. Bachmann does not possess this necessary criterion and has watched her support base dwindle to 4% in favor of stronger candidates.
Although Bachmann lacks tangible foreign policy experience, her position on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence lends her a degree of credibility on national security issues. A huge cornerstone of her campaign is to end illegal immigration and expand the border fence between the U.S. and Mexico. She has claimed that this endeavor is “job one.”
Bachmann’s position on the U.S. presence in Afghanistan and aid to Pakistan remain unclear. However, she disagrees with terrorist suspects being tried in civilian courts and supports waterboarding tactics. She strongly supports Israel and as a result, contests U.N. recognition of Palestine.
Although Bachmann started out in the lead, winning the Iowa Straw Poll in August and appearing dynamic and passionate about her conservative message, her support has tapered off since Governor Rick Perry entered the race and Herman Cain won over supporters with his charismatic charm.
While projections for the Republican nomination favor candidate Mitt Romney, the race is far from over. However, if Bachmann continues to loose supporters to other candidates, her dropping in the polls and squeeze by the media will be solely attributed to her weakness as a candidate, gender differences aside.