Nightly News | August 12, 2011
WILLIAMS: Good evening.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: One the one hand, a lot of Republicans like their chances in 2012 because of the shape the country's in. On the other and, the current shape of the candidate field is something a lot of Republicans are grappling with. While it's way early yet, and this coming weekend's Iowa straw poll isn't really an indicator of anything, some notable story lines have emerged. Mitt Romney 's got the money. Rick Perry may have the momentum. And Michele Bachmann remains in the news for how she's treated compared to the others. It happened again last night in the a big debate in Iowa . It's where we begin tonight with NBC 's Andrea Mitchell in Des Moines . Andrea , good evening.
ANDREA MITCHELL reporting: Good evening. It was arguably the most memorable moment of that debate, Brian . It was the question to Michele Bachmann about her marriage, her faith, and how it would affect her ability to be president. Today people were talking about whether women politicians are still being treated differently than men.
Representative MICHELE BACHMANN (Republican, Minnesota Congresswoman): Did anybody catch the debate last night?
Group of People: Yeah!
MITCHELL: She is the front-runner in Iowa , but on stage last night, for Michele Bachmann , a political debate unexpectedly turned personal.
Mr. BYRON YORK: You described a moment in your life when your husband said you should study for a degree in tax law. You said you hated the idea, and then you explained, quote, "But the Lord said be submissive. Wives, you are to be submissive to your husbands." As president, would you be submissive to your husband ?
Rep. BACHMANN: Thank you for that question, Byron .
Mr. YORK: You're welcome.
Rep. BACHMANN: Marcus and I will be married for 33 years this September 10th . I'm in love with him. I'm so proud of him. And both he and I, what submission means to us -- if that's what your question is -- it means respect. I respect my husband . He's a wonderful godly man and a great father, and he respects me as his wife. That's how we operate our marriage.
MITCHELL: There were gasps and boos at the question.
Mr. CHARLIE COOK (NBC News Political Analyst): You could feel the barometric pressure of that press room change, but she deflected it nicely. She showed she could play at this level.
MITCHELL: Lester Holt asked Bachmann about it on "Today."
LESTER HOLT reporting: Was it important to clarify it, and do you think you did clarify your thoughts on that?
Rep. BACHMANN: Oh, I think so. I think it's important to talk about respect. We've been married for 33 years and the basis of our marriage is respect. And I 'm just grateful to get that answer and that comment out.
MITCHELL: At the state fair today, Sarah Palin said any question is fair in a debate, but did Palin agree with Bachmann 's answer?
Former Governor SARAH PALIN: That's her opinion, you know, is that to her submission to her husband means respecting her husband . And, you know, I
respect my husband , too. Submit....
Unidentified Reporter #1: If Todd said don't run, would you not run?
Gov. PALIN: I can't imagine my husband ever telling me what to do politically.
MITCHELL: Others gave Bachmann high marks for her response.
Ms. ANN SELZER ; You know, she's at the top of the leader board. She's a big girl , she can take care of herself. But you still hear the crowd kind of rally around if they think something's just not fair.
MITCHELL: And there were signs it could even help her with some voters, at least in Iowa .
Unidentified Woman: I thought it was extremely rude. I thought the question was extremely rude.
Unidentified Reporter #2: And why is that?
Woman: Well, it wasn't even part of the issues, none of the issues, to attack the family. It was wrong.
MITCHELL: Byron York , who asked that question, said today that it is a serious and legitimate issue, a human moment that Michele Bachmann handled well. What everyone else thinks, Michele Bachmann has clearly become something of a Rorschach test in American politics today. Brian :
WILLIAMS: All right. Andrea Mitchell at the Iowa State Fair . Andrea ,