What's it like to have a parent who is running for the American presidency? More pointedly, what's it like to be Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann’s kid?
The Blaze had a unique opportunity to speak candidly with Dr. Lucas Bachmann, the congresswoman and Republican presidential candidate's eldest son.
During the interview, which spanned over an hour and a half, Lucas spoke to me about his mother's 2012 campaign, her personality, the impact her political aspirations have had on his family and plenty more. Surprisingly, the University of Connecticut medical resident was an open book, holding little back in his responses.
Naturally, one wonders what it’s like to be the son or daughter of a candidate vying for the presidency -- especially when his or her parent has the ability to frequently capture national headlines. When asked what it’s like to be Michele Bachmann’s son, Lucas seems desensitized to the fame and attention and admits that it's been a long process. He says, “It’s hard to say, because it’s been a rise that’s transpired for the last 10 years -- maybe even more than that.”
He explains that his family has became accustomed to the publicity that often surrounds his mother, as she has slowly gained notoriety in smaller circles over the past decade. Thus, he is well-versed in dealing with both the benefits and the challenges that accompany politicians and their families during campaign cycles.
While he admits that his mother’s career has never, to date, been at its current level, he contends that the recent influx of media coverage and the revving up of his mother’s campaign doesn’t feel like being a “frog thrown into boiling water.” He says, “The water just got turned up a bit higher than usual.”
Clearly, the general experience of being the child of a presidential candidate is a unique one. But, what about the very public media attacks that candidates like his mother regularly face? Lucas calmly and simplistically explains how he copes:
“You take the attacks and that’s expected. You get used to it. And the nice thing is that when certain scenarios and accusations go so far down the rabbit hole you can say to yourself, ‘Okay, this is ridiculous…’"
Aside from the increased attention, there are other elements that one must get used to. Naturally, the Bachmann family has experienced some changes in dynamics since the congresswoman threw her hat into the presidential ring. When asked how his mother's career has impacted his family, Lucas is candid:
"It’s changed the dynamics. Whereas she had more time to clean, cook, be more intimately involved in homework, visit colleges with my sisters -- that’s been somewhat limited. But, she serves those roles in proxy now. She’ll look at a campus online, for instance, if she can't physically be there. Things have definitely changed."
In an effort to better understand his past, I asked the young doctor what his childhood was like. Growing up was unusual (but in a positive sense) because of his mother’s political career, but there were other elements that separated Lucas' childhood from that of his peers. In addition to raising five biological kids, the Bachmanns took in 23 foster children. And if that isn't astounding enough, Lucas explains:
"We were a niche foster care family. Disproportionately, we took in teenage girls with eating disorders."
Lucas' father, Marcus, is a therapist. His unique professional skill set made their home a good fit for these struggling young women. While his father did not treat the girls, his familiarity with the issues they were facing perfectly suited the family to look out for the girls' best interests. Lucas describes the fascinating experience:
"The foster girls came in -- they were able to manipulate the bathroom and the phone. It was challenging, but fun. I had people to talk to, relate to, hang out with and play with."
Based on Lucas' account, the Bachmann family appears to be close-knit. When asked how often he speaks with his mother, he explained that, despite her hectic campaign schedule, he chats with her practically every day:
"We speak a fair amount, mostly in the evenings. I used to be [before the presidential campaign launch] much more involved in campaign strategy and political thought processes. The mantra between her and I has always been that however great you think your idea is, it should be able to withstand criticism. So, she would run her ideas past me.
This has certainly changed now. They have real people to do that…people who are much more capable than I am. We still talk about how things have transpired, how things have worked out. In fact, I talked to her last night."
And what about the medias' often harsh treatment of Michele Bachmann? As a strong, conservative – and most notably a woman -- she is in a unique position in her quest for the Republican nomination. When asked if he believes that conservative women are treated more harshly by mainstream outlets, Lucas responded affirmatively:
“I don’t have any empirical data to speak to that. But, look what happened to Sarah Palin. Look, for instance, at what David Letterman did to her -- the nonstop, ruthless attacks.
"And, it’s not just a conservative issue. Look at how Hillary Clinton was treated in 2008. She was absolutely raked through the coals by the media.”
While the aforementioned information may be of intrigue, many Americans are asking an extremely important question (especially considering the fact that, if elected, the congresswoman will lead the free world): Who, exactly, is Michele Bachmann? Sure, some may know a little bit about her stances, controversies, ongoing political debates with her opponents, and the like. But, the portrait of Michele Bachmann from the standpoint of her eldest son is worth noting. To begin, Lucas claims she is a “very fact-based person.”
Michele Bachmann, herself, has touted her ability to maintain a “rigorous schedule” despite emerging questions about alleged migraines. Regardless of whether she suffers from the all-too-common ailment, Lucas speaks candidly about her energy level: “She is, without a doubt, able to go, go, go. She just doesn’t stop.”
Lucas also says that his mother is “a true believer” and that she pours herself wholeheartedly into the causes and initiatives she takes embraces. The most astounding element of my conversation with Lucas, coincidentally, was his overwhelming openness to discuss practically any subject. It is this quality that the young doctor sees in his mother as well. When admitting that “everyone is calculated to some extent,” he says his mother truly “believes in the cause":
“It’s not like you have to guess where she’s coming from. You can, based on her history, get a good idea about how she would likely vote on a bill.”
And what about those pesky, seemingly never-ending questions about the Bachmanns’ church membership? Apparently, the foul play the media seemed to be looking for simply doesn't exist (according to Lucas, at least). The eldest Bachmann child explains that the family moved to Stillwater, Minnesota, when he was young. They church-hopped for a year or two, then finally landed at Salem (where they attended for approximately 10 years):
“We liked the pastor’s sermons at Salem. There were good programs for kids. But, we later moved pretty far away, so we just changed churches based on geography. It is my understanding that there was no official membership change at the time. This was probably two or three years ago.
As mom was re-elected to Congress, people at our old church [Salem] began looking at the books. The church recently approached her and asked what her membership status is…and she explained that it would be best to officially severe it.”
Aside from highlighting his mother's close ties with Catholic voters in her district, he directly addressed the controversy, saying, “I’ve never heard an anti-Catholic sentiment coming from my mother.”
Lucas Bachmann's perspective provided a fascinating look into the life and family of a prominent American politician who is seeking the presidency. The honest dialogue provided an open forum through which fans and foes, alike, can better understand the underpinnings of one of the nation's most talked about politicians.
During the interview, I couldn't help but wonder if I was talking to a member of the nation's next first family. After all, Bachmann thinks she can win -- which is why she's running. Now, we'll have to wait and see if this "fact-based" woman who her son describes as a “true believer” can convince the American public to come alongside her.