Donald Trump’s border wall proposal has earned him high praise from his political predecessor, former Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., according to a meme circulating on social media.
According to one version of the meme, Bachmann said, "There are those who say a border wall won't work. They just don't have the vision Donald Trump does. The Chinese built a Great Wall 5,000 years ago. You don't see any illegal Mexicans in China."
It’s a tidy confluence of past and present presidential campaigns, as Trump’s lead in the Republican field is often compared to Bachmann’s early success in the 2012 presidential election.
Several readers asked us to look into whether Bachmann actually made the comments. We obliged and found no evidence backing the claim. We also reached out to Bachmann’s spokesperson, who said the former member of Congress never made the remarks.
The first thing that had us raising our eyebrows was some of the text that accompanied the meme when it was posted on Facebook.
"What do you think about a Trump/Bachmann ticket in the 2016 Presidential race?" it said. "Former Rep. Michelle Bachman (sic) told Fox News' Jenna Jameson she ‘admired Donald's leadership and vision’ and also complimented Trump on his reality show success, ‘If Donald can do for this country what he did for Arsenio Hall America will be great again.’ "
Jameson is a former porn star, not a Fox News host, nor is she employed by the network in any way, said a Fox spokesperson. (Jameson did make a rocky appearance on a Fox entertainment program in 2013.)
We also searched three comprehensive databases -- Nexis and CQ, which aggregate transcripts, and Critical Mention, which records video and closed captioning -- and found no record of Bachmann ever making those comments.
To our knowledge, she hasn’t appeared on Fox News since Trump announced his candidacy. She has commented on and praised Trump in several interviews on different networks, though she has never mentioned his wall proposal. Here’s a rundown of her Trump-related remarks:
• Aug. 6 on MSNBC’s Hardball: When asked if Trump will make for a good candidate, Bachmann said, "Well, that's what he’ll have to prove on the stage" at the first GOP debate.
• Aug 8 on CNN Tonight: "He’s like the Rocky Balboa of politics. He’s a winner. He’s been winning all through his life."
• Aug. 10 in an interview with conservative radio host Tony Perkins: "When he talks about the effects of illegal immigration on the United States, that resonates with the American people."
• Aug. 17 on CBS News: "He’s getting it right. … Donald Trump has the secret decoder ring of what’s on voters’ minds. I think I had that too when it came to the repeal of Obamacare. Donald Trump understands people are not happy with massive immigration from third-world countries."
Before Trump, Bachmann championed the idea of a border fence for years, but we couldn’t find an instance when she’s evoked the Great Wall of China. ButTrump has.
"Well, 3,000 years ago, the Great Wall of China was built. We would like to have that wall. That wall, nobody gets through. That I can tell you. And that's 13,000 miles. right?" he said at a town hall in New Hampshire on Aug. 18. "I want it to be so beautiful because maybe someday they're going to call it the Trump Wall."
Bachmann’s spokeswoman told us that Bachmann agrees with Trump’s views on immigration, adding, "Trump's emphasis on stopping the current tidal wave of immigration is in sync with a plurality of voters, as polls demonstrate a great majority of Americans believe."
A meme says that Bachmann said, "The Chinese built a Great Wall 5,000 years ago. You don't see any illegal Mexicans in China."
We found no evidence that Bachmann ever said this, and her spokeswoman said she did not, in fact, say it. The meme seems to have satirical origins but is now being passed off as fact. We rate the statement Pants on Fire!