Michele Bachmann: My Migranes Don’t Affect My Job Performance

In response to the Daily Caller report that I wrote about this morning, Michele Bachmann has released a statement:

“Like nearly 30 million other Americans, I experience migraines that are easily controlled with medication. I am a wife, a mother, a lawyer who worked her way through law school, a former state senator who achieved the repeal of a harmful piece of education policy in Minnesota, and a congresswoman who has worked tirelessly fighting against the expansion of government and wasteful spending.

“Since entering the campaign, I have maintained a full schedule between my duties as a congresswoman and as a presidential candidate traveling across the nation to meet with voters in the key, early primary and caucus states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. I have prescription medication that I take whenever symptoms arise and they keep the migraines under control. Let me be abundantly clear – my ability to function effectively has never been impeded by migraines and will not affect my ability to serve as Commander in Chief.

“The many questions I have received on this subject have allowed me to discuss this important condition that impacts individuals in nearly one in four households. However, as a presidential candidate and office holder, I am focused on performing my job, which has never been more important given the state of our economy and the millions of Americans that are out of work. While I appreciate the concern for me and my health, the greater concern should be the debate that is occurring in Washington over whether or not we will increase our debt, spending and taxes.”

Is this enough to address the story? I’m not sure. It is relevant to know if the allegations of her having been hospitalized in the past for this condition and, as David Weigel notes, the medication she’s on is also relevant:

Normally we might not care about a politician’s medical regimen. I wasn’t overexcited about David Wu’s story of mental illness and drug use; I myself take anti-depressants. But the next part of this is obvious — Bachmann’s running for president. We might be interested in how she medicates this problem because medications have side effects. Excedrin Migraine can cause ulcers if overused. Triptans, like Relpax, have other side effects — muscle weakness, for example. Bachmann’s always come off as an extremely vigorous campaigner and pol, but so did John F. Kennedy, and voters had no idea that he had Addison’s disease, or that he would later take cortisone and testosterone. And she’ll probably have to discuss this in more detail before it goes away.

As I said this morning, the Bachmann campaign would do itself well to address this matter openly and this statement doesn’t really do that. Neither does this:

[ABC News Reporter Brian] Ross dashed after Bachmann, repeatedly asking whether she had ever missed a House vote due to a migraine. She ignored him. Ross pursued her into a parking area behind the stage. Her aides grew alarmed. When Ross made a beeline for the white SUV waiting to carry Bachmann away, two Bachmann men pounced on him, grabbing and pushing him multiple times with what looked to me like unusual force. In fact, I have never seen a reporter treated so roughly at a campaign event, especially not a presidential one. Ross was finally able to break away and lob his question at Bachmann one more time, but she continued to ignore him.

Afterward, I asked Ross — a hard-nosed pro who nevertheless seemed slightly shaken — whether he had ever been treated so roughly. “A few times,” he told me. “Mostly by Mafia people.”

Bad move.


FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, US Politics, , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. legion says:

    Wow. I don’t know who’s responsible for this (although its presence in the Daily Caller smells highly Rovian), but frankly, I think responding to it directly like this is something of a rookie mistake. Anonymously-sourced smears like this should be handled by reps; Bachmann responding directly just lends the charges credence, IMHO. But then again, employing security members so unprofessional as to rough up a reporter is also rookie-level stupid…

  2. EddieInCA says:

    If Brian Ross is at your event, it means you have a problem much bigger than migranes. The guy is a pit-bull, who usually breaks some pretty terrific investigative stories.

    That’s what probably caused the over-reaction by her staff. And the optics on this – when it airs (and it WILL air) – will be terrible.

  3. An Interested Party says:

    Headaches…the perfect metaphor for Bachmann’s effect on the GOP race…now, if only she could win the nomination…

  4. Franklin says:

    This is relevant to my interests as I have to take a triptan for migraines. It’s difficult to function at 100% before it takes full effect, but that’s usually less than hour. I’m not a Bachmann fan but she’s got my sympathy on this issue.

  5. anjin-san says:

    I’m not a Bachmann fan but she’s got my sympathy on this issue.

    As anyone with a chronic health problem deserves some. I know sinus headaches kick my ass. Still a legit subject for discussion…

  6. Bill Jempty says:

    While I have managed to survive Stage IV malignant melanoma for over two years now including the presence of brain tumors, I do have sympathy for the woman, however I still get a pounding feeling in my thinking I may have the choice of picking between her and Obama in Nov. 2012.

  7. Socrates says:

    It is relevant if the headaches are severe enough to disable her.

    I can speak from brutal personal experience: my wife has severe migraines.

    Perhaps 6 or 8 times a year, or so, these are so severe that she is in bed for one to three days. There is little chance that she can perform even very simple tasks; she certainly would be unable to make crucial life and death decisions. For much of this time, she can’t eat, she can’t sit up in bed, she can’t read, she can’t watch television or use a computer, she can’t tolerate lights being on, and she cannot have a conversation.

    So I would say this issue turns on the severity of Ms. Bachmann’s migraines. If they are at all like the migraines my wife suffers, then I think this is a very significant issue for a Presidential candidate.