Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann says she regrets using the term "anti-American" while discussing Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's views, a remark that could threaten her re-election bid.
Bachmann told the St. Cloud Times on Tuesday that she "made a big mistake" by going on MSNBC's "Hardball," a show she said she'd never seen before her appearance last week. Her statement to host Chris Matthews that Obama "may have anti-American views" drew condemnation and helped her opponent, Democrat Elwyn Tinklenberg, raise more than $1 million in just a few days.
During an interview with the Times' editorial board, Bachmann said she walked into a trap and did not bring up the term "anti-American." Still, she said, "I should not have used that phrase."
Earlier in the day, Bachmann told St. Cloud Rotary Club members she would like to "take back" the statement.
"I did not say that Barack Obama was anti-American, nor do I believe Barack Obama is anti-American. He loves his country, just as everyone in this room does," she told the crowd. "Nor did I call for an investigation of members of Congress for their pro-American or anti-American views. That is not what I said."
Bachmann said that while she didn't question Obama's patriotism, "I'm very concerned about Barack Obama's views. I don't believe that socialism is a good thing for America."
The Rotary Club luncheon was her first formal public appearance since Friday's interview, in which Matthews asked Bachmann if she believed Obama held anti-American views.
Her response was: "Absolutely. I'm very concerned that he may have anti-American views. That's what the American people are concerned about. That's why they want to know what his answers are."
Bachmann said Tuesday she probably should have watched "Hardball" to see what it was like before she went on it.
Democratic state Sen. Tarryl Clark, who attended the luncheon, said she didn't hear an apology from Bachmann.
"The facts are the facts about what she said and she can't erase them," Clark said. "She can apologize for them, but that's about it. People don't have the time for this. I thought she was denying what she said."
Before Friday's "Hardball" aired, Bachmann was favored to win a second term. National Democrats, sensing opportunity, announced Monday they would pour $1 million into TV ads in the district, which lies on a corridor from the Twin Cities northwest to St. Cloud.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.) AP-NY-10-22-08 0716EDT