Bachmann Wants a Do-Over

Posted October 22, 2008 at 2:35pm

No longer claiming that her attacks on Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) were misconstrued, GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) now says that she regrets calling Obama “anti-American” and wishes she could take it back.

During a Tuesday interview with the St. Cloud Times, Bachmann said she “made a big mistake” by going on MSNBC’s “Hardball” on Friday and saying that Obama “may have anti-American views.” Her comments helped her Democratic challenger, Elwyn Tinklenberg, raise more than $1 million in a matter of days.

In a separate appearance earlier Tuesday, Bachmann told the St. Cloud Rotary Club that she never actually said that Obama was anti-American. Still, she told the club, “I’m very concerned about Barack Obama’s views. I don’t believe that socialism is a good thing for America.”

“I do believe firmly that a trap was laid and I stepped into it,” Bachmann said, referring to the way that host Chris Matthews phrased his questions during the televised interview.

But in the end, she said, “I made a misstatement and I said a comment that I would take back.”

Despite footage of the MSNBC interview suggesting otherwise, the embattled Republican also disagreed that she called for an investigation of Members of Congress for anti-American views. “That is not what I said,” she said.

Bachmann said she believes the Democratic presidential candidate “loves his country, just as everyone in this room does.”

Bachmann’s retreat comes as a handful of House Republicans have come under fire for the tone of their attacks against Democrats. In a recently released video clip, Rep. Randy Kuhl (R-N.Y.) accused Democrats of wanting “the American public to suffer,” while Rep. Robin Hayes (R-N.C.) on Saturday charged that “liberals hate real Americans that work and achieve and believe in God.”

Democrats quickly sought to get some political mileage out of the remarks. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on Wednesday issued a fundraising e-mail drawing attention to the GOP statements, and House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) scolded the lawmakers in a press release and asked other Republicans disavow their statements.

“Partisan passions always rise two weeks before an election, but calling the other party anti-American, saying members of one party hate real Americans and want the American public to suffer crosses the line,” Emanuel said.

He warned that the Republican Party is “at risk of being taken over by the voices of fear and division.”

It is “no wonder” former Secretary of State Colin Powell, a prominent Republican who recently endorsed Obama, “is so concerned about the direction of the Republican Party,” Emanuel argued.