Tea Party freshman: Bachmann 'had no business' giving a speech Tuesday

One freshman House Republican is unhappy with Rep. Michele Bachmann's (R-Minn.) decision to give her own response to President Obama's State of the Union address.

Rep. Joe Walsh (Ill.) — who rode a wave of Tea Party support into Congress — said that Bachmann's speech was a "distraction" that gave the media fodder to speculate about division within the Republican Party.

"I mean, there is no more Tea Party freshman on the planet than myself, but I'll be the first to say, respectfully, Michele had no business making that speech last night," Walsh said Wednesday, according to Chicago radio station WLS.

Walsh is one of the only House Republicans to publicly rebuke the Minnesota congresswoman, who also heads the Tea Party Caucus, for responding to the State of the Union in a nationally televised speech. Democrats have sought to play up Bachmann's response as an example of the divide between the conservative rank and file and party leaders.

Asked about Bachmann's remarks on Wednesday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said he did not watch but reaffirmed that all members have the right to offer their thoughts on Obama's address.

"Well, I think all members of the House and the Senate responded to the speech in many forms," he said. "The more, the merrier."

Bachmann appeared on CNN immediately after House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) gave the official GOP response, ripping the president on spending. Her office repeatedly claimed that it did not intend to compete with Ryan's speech.

Her response was hosted by the Tea Party Express group, which also streamed it on its website. 

Even though Bachmann did not refer specifically to Ryan's comments, Walsh said the fact she gave her own response hurt the GOP.

"I mean, Paul Ryan gave the Republican response. We're all Republicans," he said. "I think it was a distraction that she did it, and it was just fodder for the media to do as you just said: to try to create this separation within the party."

Walsh has been one of the more outspoken GOP freshmen since he defeated Democratic Rep. Melissa Bean (Ill.) in November. A staunch opponent of the healthcare law, he became one of the handful of new Republicans to refuse the government-sponsored health insurance plan available to lawmakers.

-- This post was updated at 12:35 p.m.

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