Commentary Magazine


Tom Ridge: Bachmann Too Inexperienced to be President

Tim Pawlenty isn’t the only Republican blasting Rep. Michele Bachmann as unqualified for the presidency. Former Homeland Security Chief Tom Ridge bluntly told the Washington Times today that Bachmann has little chance of winning a national election and compared her lack of experience to President Obama’s when he first took office:

“We have a pretty inexperienced president right now,” Mr. Ridge said. “You see the range of issues in the 21st century world: We are interconnected, we are integrated. Our ability to connect for both security and prosperity reasons now and forever more, I think, requires a set of experiences that she just doesn’t have in her portfolio.” …

But Mr. Ridge said he thought she could not win a national election and warned his fellow Republicans against sacrificing a White House victory on the altar of ideological purity.

“We have to say to ourselves as a party: Consistent with principles that we have, do we want to win or are we into Pyrrhic victories?” he said. “Do we want to appoint Supreme Court justices? Do we want to appoint a Cabinet? Do we want to set a domestic and foreign policy agenda? If the answer is yes, then I think we’re going to have to be a little more tolerant of differences in the party.

As if that wasn’t enough evidence Ridge thinks Bachmann is unserious, when Washington Times reporter Ben Birnbaum asked Ridge if he thought it was unfair to compare the congresswoman with Sarah Palin, he “chuckled” and said, “I think she compares quite well.”

In defense of Bachmann, the current frontrunner in the race — Mitt Romney — isn’t particularly seasoned in foreign policy either. But Romney campaign has also amassed a strong team of advisers to educate him on the issues. It’s still unclear who is assisting Bachmann in this area, though her judgment seems to be on-target so far.

It was obvious from the beginning that establishment Republicans weren’t going to jump onboard with Bachmann, but her campaign will still need to fight back against this “lack of experience” narrative before it becomes too pervasive.

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