Claim: During a Fox News interview, Michele Bachmann said the U.S. could “use a President like Benjamin Franklin again.”
Example: [Collected via Facebook, May 2014]
Is this real?
Origins: Benjamin Franklin is one of those figures who was so ubiquitous during the American Revolution and the early history of the U.S. that many people incorrectly assume he once served as a U.S. President. He was a Founding Father who participated in the
conventions that produced the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution; he was the only person to sign all four of the major documents that created the foundation of the fledgling United States (the Declaration of Independence, the Treaty of Alliance with France, the Treaty of Paris, and the United States Constitution); he served as the first U.S. postmaster general, U.S. ambassador to France, and president of Pennsylvania; and his visage famously appears on the U.S. $100 bill. But he never held the office of President of the United States, being too old and in ill health to serve in that capacity. (Franklin passed away just one year into George Washington’s initial term as the first U.S. President.)
The graphic reproduced above posits that Michele Bachmann, a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Minnesota, is one of the many people who have mistakenly identified Benjamin Franklin as a U.S. President, supposedly having said during a Fox News interview on 28 May 2014 that “This country could use a president like Benjamin Franklin again.” However, while Rep. Bachmann has made a number of inaccurate historical statements in her public discourse, this isn’t one of them.
Rep. Bachmann did not appear on Fox News on 28 May 2014, and available news transcripts don’t record her as having said “This country could use a president like Benjamin Franklin again” during a television interview on that day or any other. Moreover, the graphic shown above (which appears to have originated with the Christians for Michele Bachmann satire site) is clearly an altered version of a screenshot taken from a Sean Hannity interview with Rep. Bachmann conducted back in June 2013 (not May 2014, as claimed), during which she announced that even though she wouldn’t be seeking another term in Congress, she might still run for a different public office:
Rep. Bachmann did mention Benjamin Franklin twice during her 4 January 2012 announcement that she was ending her presidential campaign, but in both instances she correctly referenced him as a founder of the U.S. and not a president of the U.S.
Last updated: 8 June 2014
- Mencken, H. L. On Politics: A Carnival of Buncombe.
- Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996. ISBN 0-801-85342-7 (p. 21).