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AP/Photo by Dave Schwarz (The St. Cloud Times)

Turning up the heat

Politics | Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota faces criticism for her comments about Barack Obama

Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (Minn.) is getting more reaction to her recent comments on television than she expected.

After saying on MSNBC's "Hardball" that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama "may have anti-American views," Bachmann found herself fending off criticism from former Secretary of State Colin Powell, a Republican, and Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

On Sunday she told WCCO-TV in Minneapolis that her comments about Obama had been misread.

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"I feel his views are concerning, and I'm calling on the media to investigate them," Bachmann told the station. "I'm not saying that his views are anti-American."

"She said what she said and her meaning could not be more clear," said Minnesota Democratic Party Chairman Brian Melendez.

Her comments uncorked a gusher of donations to her opponent, transforming a race she had been favored to win into a worry spot for Republicans.

Democrat Elwyn Tinklenberg said his campaign brought in $810,000 in less than 72 hours after Bachmann's remarks. It had taken a year for the former state transportation commissioner a raise $1 million, with Bachmann starting the campaign's critical final month with almost four times as much cash as Hindenburg.

Bachmann has been favored to win a second term despite being one of Minnesota's most polarizing political figures, pushing for a same-sex marriage ban while a state legislator. In the past year, she has become a regular on cable talk shows, pressing the "drill, baby drill" mantra on oil and vocally opposing the financial bailout.

National Democrats, sensing opportunity, announced Monday they would pour $1 million into TV ads in Bachmann's district, which lies on a corridor from the Twin Cities northwest to St. Cloud.

Michelle Marston, a spokesperson for Bachmann, said the campaign is bracing for an onslaught of attacks. Marston said Bachmann's campaign might increase its own ad buys to counter the new money behind Tinklenberg.

"We expect that the $2 million that they want to spend now is all going to be negative," Marston said. "We have tried to run a very positive campaign."

Powell, as he endorsed Obama on Sunday, called Bachmann's remarks "nonsense" and used them as an example of negative political rhetoric that should end.

Pelosi chimed in Monday while campaigning for a Minnesota Democrat running in a different district.

"It dishonors the position that she holds and discredits her as a person," Pelosi said.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a Republican, said it was inappropriate to suggest that Obama has anti-American views, but he offered some sympathy for Bachmann's plight.

"If you do a lot of interviews, eventually you're going to say something that you wish you would have said differently," Pawlenty said at an unrelated news conference at the state Capitol. "It's just the nature of talking all day. Some words are going to come out of your mouth that you could have said better."

The comments also prompted Republican Aubrey Immelman, who lost to Bachmann in the primary, to say he would wage a write-in campaign.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Emily Belz
Emily Belz

Emily, who has covered everything from political infighting to pet salons for The Indianapolis Star, The Hill, and the New York Daily News, reports for WORLD from New York City. Follow Emily on Twitter @emzleb.

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