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31/08/2011 | US - Michele Bachmann's hurricane comments were only a joke, she says

Reuters Staff

The Republican presidential hopeful raised eyebrows with her comments that the weather was God's way of warning politicians.

 

The Republican White House hopeful Michele Bachmann has insisted she was joking when she said a hurricane and quake were God's warning to Washington, in an effort to control the damage from her latest controversial comments.

The Tea Party favourite raised eyebrows with a weekend remark to supporters in Florida that Hurricane Irene, which killed at least 24 people and left millions without power, and an east coast earthquake were God's way of telling US politicians to cut spending and fix the budget deficit.

"I don't know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We've had an earthquake; we've had a hurricane. He said, 'Are you going to start listening to me here?' " Bachmann said at a campaign event in Sarasota on Sunday.

"Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now. They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we've got to rein in the spending."

Bachmann, among the top three candidates seen to have a chance to win the Republican nomination and take on President Barack Obama next year, made similar comments elsewhere in Florida on Saturday, drawing some laughs from her audience.

When the remarks began drawing attention, she went into damage control. "Of course I was being humorous when I said that. It would be absurd to think it was anything else," Bachmann said on Monday on a campaign stop in Miami. "I am a person who loves humour, I have a great sense of humour."

The hurricane drenched Vermont and caused the worst flooding in the state for 80 years. The 5.8-magnitude earthquake, a rare occurrence on the East Coast, shook up Washington and did minor damage to the Capitol building and the Washington Monument.

Many comments by Bachmann, a Minnesota congresswoman, have come under scrutiny since she surged towards the head of the Republican election race over the summer.

During her campaign in June, she declared that the celebrated American actor John Wayne was from her hometown of Waterloo, Iowa, when in fact he was born 150 miles away.

She has also been quizzed about a remark that suggested wives should be submissive to their husbands, and in a recent speech she confused Elvis 's birthday with the anniversary of his death.

Bachmann told her Miami audience on Monday that if she were elected president, "you won't see any teleprompter in the White House". She criticised Obama for using one in speeches.

Bachmann is popular in the fiscally conservative Tea Party movement and with religious social conservatives. She won an important poll in the early voting state of Iowa earlier this month, but recent surveys have shown her lagging behind the Texas governor, Rick Perry, and the moderate Mitt Romney.

A CNN poll on Monday put her in fourth place among Republicans, with 9%, and behind the former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, who has not declared her candidacy.

Bachmann seems to be fighting Perry for the same kind of conservative Republican voters and falling behind.

Republican strategist Matt Mackowiak said her Irene comment reflected a dilemma for the Minnesotan, that she has to shift right to regain her footing against Perry but, in doing so, she raises questions about whether she is electable.

The Guardian (Reino Unido)

 


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