Bachmann: Yes, I Get Migraines

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
July 19 2011 3:31 PM

Bachmann: Yes, I Get Migraines

The Bachmann campaign responds to Jonathan Strong's scoop about her problem with migraines. The important parts of the story, really briefly, were the causes of the attacks, the frequency of the migraines -- weekly, according to one source -- and the medication she took to ameliorate them. The statement, posted in full right here, does not explicitly deal with the details.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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.
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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.

Stuff like this doesn't help.

[ABC investigative 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 ignored him again.
Afterward, I asked Ross–a hard-nosed pro who nevertheless seemed slightly shaken–whether he’d ever been treated so roughly. “A few times,” he told me. “Mostly by mafia people.”

It's an annoying question, and it's personal, but you know what? They're only asking because she's running for president.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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