Michele Bachmann
Michele Bachmann evoked John Wayne - incorrectly. Image: Gage Skidmore/Flickr/CC BY-SA

Republican presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann, who formally announced her candidacy on Monday, is being criticized for mixing up actor John Wayne with serial killer John Wayne Gacy. It is just the latest in a string of inaccurate historical references.

Bachmann misspeaks

In an interview with Fox news Monday Bachmann said, “But what I want them to know, just like John Wayne was from Waterloo, Iowa, that’s the kind of spirit I have, too. It’s about not being ashamed of America. It’s about embracing America, loving America, sacrificing for America.” And perhaps it’s about not doing your homework about America.

The wrong John Wayne

It seems Bachmann’s Tea Party researchers got their facts wrong. Actor John Wayne was actually born as Marion Morrison in Winterset, Iowa. Winterset is about 150 miles from Waterloo. Notorious serial killer John Wayne Gacy did, for a time, live in Waterloo.

Gacy, ‘the Clown Killer’

Gacy raped and murdered 33 boys and young men between 1972 and 1978. He sometimes played a character known as “Pogo the Clown” at children’s parties and other events, earning him the title “the Clown Killer.” Twenty-six of Gacy’s victims were buried under the crawlspace beneath his home. He spent 14 years on death row and was executed by lethal injection on May 9, 1994.

Previous gaffes

This is not the first gaffe Bachmann has made. Previous slips include saying that our founding fathers “worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States.” Abolition did not occur until the United States was approaching its centennial. In another speech she erroneously referred to New Hampshire as the “state where the shot was heard round the world at Lexington and Concord,” an incident that occurred in Massachusetts. She also falsely claimed that Canada survived the Great Depression without a stimulus program.

Owns her mistakes

Unlike Sarah Palin — another gaffe-prone prominent woman in Republican politics — Bachmann does not make transparent denials of her verbal missteps. Bachmann has commented on the gaffe, saying “I wish I could be perfect. I’m a substantive, serious person.”

Sources

Seattle PI: http://blog.seattlepi.com/seattlepolitics/2011/06/27/bachmann-mixes-up-john-wayne-john-wayne-gacyo/
Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/28/john-wayne-gacy-michele-bachmann_n_885840.html
Philly2Philly: http://www.philly2philly.com/politics_community/the_omelette/2011/6/28/47362/philadelphia_shootings_and_anarchy_michele_bachmanns

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