Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann promised Wednesday that she would submit only balanced budgets if elected next year, but she stopped short of promising to veto any deficit budget presented to her by Congress.
"I can't control what the Congress will do. But I will guarantee you I will submit a balanced budget," Bachmann said in answering a voter's question during a campaign event in a backyard south of Des Moines.
When asked a moment later if she would veto a deficit budget, she hesitated.
"Well, I will work with them on it. I will do everything I can," she said. "Most likely, I probably will."
The Minnesota congresswoman returned to Iowa, which has the nation's first presidential caucuses, after voting Tuesday in Washington against a bill that would have raised the federal debt limit, but also included sharp spending cuts, a cap on spending and steps toward a balanced budget amendment.
Bachmann signed a pledge endorsing the so-called "cut, cap and balance" approach to the national debt Monday in South Carolina. Bachmann had previously refused to sign the pledge because she said it didn't go far enough in dealing with the national debt. She signed after eight other presidential candidates and added her own stipulation that Congress must repeal the health care overhaul passed last year.
Bachmann told the audience of about 75 Iowa Republican activists Wednesday that while she agreed with bill's "cut, cap and balance" principles, she voted against it because she has taken a hard line against raising the debt limit. She also said she had hoped the bill would have included language to repeal the federal health care law enacted last year.
"I have a rock solid record of being a fiscal conservative, and a real fiscal hawk," she said.
Bachmann planned a full day of campaigning in Iowa after facing questions Tuesday about migraine headaches she suffers. The questions were prompted by a story published in The Daily Caller, a GOP-leaning website, which said Bachmann suffered from sometimes debilitating, chronic migraines.
Bachmann's campaign released a doctor's letter Wednesday aimed at quieting reports that the headaches have hindered her performance in Congress and could pose problems if she were president. In the letter, Dr. Brian Monahan, the attending congressional physician, described Bachmann as "overall in good general health" despite the headaches which he described as infrequent.
"Your migraines occur infrequently and have known trigger factors of which you are aware and know how to avoid," wrote Monahan, who has examined Bachmann during her three terms in Congress. Monahan also noted that Bachmann has had lab work and brain scans, which have come back normal, and that she can control the headaches with two commonly prescribed drugs.
At her Wednesday morning event, Bachmann stood in direct sunlight wearing long sleeves in temperatures approaching 90 degrees for more than 30 minutes. She sipped some water and later posed for pictures and shook hands for another 20 minutes.
Asked by reporters afterward about her headaches, Bachmann responded briskly: "I keep a very rigorous schedule, and I feel great."