Bachmann adds health care to spending limit pledge
By SEANNA ADCOX Associated Press
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann signed a pledge Monday opposing any increase in the U.S. debt limit, after adding her own stipulation on health care.
The GOP presidential hopeful signed the "cut, cap and balance" pledge in Columbia after adding that Congress must cut off funding and repeal the health care overhaul passed last year.
"Obama added to our spending problem by adding trillions of dollars to our debt. Without the repeal of Obamacare, we can't hope to have real economic reform," she said. "I pledge to you as president of the United States of America, I will not rest until we repeal Obamacare. I have the resolve and titanium spine to do just that."
Bachmann had avoided signing the pledge for several weeks, saying as late as last week that it didn't go far enough.
The pledge signed by eight other presidential candidates says the federal government should not borrow more unless there are immediate spending cuts, enforceable spending caps, and Congress passes a constitutional amendment to balance the federal budget.
Bachmann became the ninth GOP presidential candidate to sign the pledge. Five Republican governors have signed it, including South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.
Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman said last week that he won't sign because he opposes such pledges in general.
The U.S. House is expected to vote on the tea party-backed "cut, cap and balance" plan on Tuesday, though it's sure to stall in the Senate. Even if it manages to pass, Obama said he would veto it.
Under the measure, if all the conditions are met, the debt ceiling would be raised.
Bachmann said she signed the pledge to support U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint's plan to fundamentally transform the way Washington spends.
However, she said emphatically she wouldn't vote to raise the debt ceiling even if the conditions were met.
"Even if we pass this bill, that doesn't necessarily follow that we must increase the debt ceiling. I continue to stand strong and will vote no on increasing the debt ceiling," she said. "We should never continue to spend and borrow money we don't have."
Bachmann's spokeswoman said later Monday she was unsure whether Bachmann's insistence she wouldn't vote to raise the debt ceiling means she'd vote against the bill.
Bachmann hopes to make the vote. But she has two campaign events in South Carolina on Tuesday. The second event, a rally in Aiken, is scheduled to conclude about 2 p.m.
Earlier this month, DeMint said on CNN that he was disappointed in Bachmann for not signing. DeMint has turned the pledge into a threshold test for 2012 presidential hopefuls seeking his support.
However, Bachmann said she felt "absolutely no pressure to sign."
She attributed her delay in signing to needing to think it over thoroughly.
"I've always stood firm on these principles," she said, adding she talked with DeMint about it as the bill was being drafted. "I was in the midst of launching my announcement for presidency of the United States. I believe in actually reading the bills before signing them. I read the bill. I talked this over. I thought about it quite a bit, and I believe that Jim is exactly right. We need a fundamental restructuring in the way Washington spends our money."
Bachmann was set to talk later Monday with religious leaders gathering at a Renewal Project event. The group tries to keeps a low profile with meetings that are closed to the media.
"They want to be able to communicate, probably, in an unvarnished way," said Oran Smith, who runs the Palmetto Family Council in Columbia.
Bachmann won't be alone among Republicans addressing the group in Columbia. Freshman Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is speaking Monday night and presidential hopeful and former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich will speak Tuesday.
The group held a similar gathering in Iowa in March attended by Bachmann, Gingrich and then-hopefuls Alabama Gov. Haley Barbour and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.