MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann said in a TV interview Friday that she's concerned Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama "may have anti-American views."
In an interview on the MSNBC program "Hardball," host Chris Matthews asked Bachmann, currently running for reelection in Minnesota's 6th District, if she thinks Obama may have anti-American views.
Her response: "Absolutely. I'm very concerned that he may have anti-American views." Bachmann said she based her suspicions on Obama's past associations with his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, and 1960's-era radical Bill Ayers.
In so doing, she echoed similar criticisms by Republican presidential candidate John McCain and his running mate, Sarah Palin -- although they have stopped short of outright suggesting that Obama is anti-American.
Palin told CBS News on Friday, "I know Obama loves America." Nick Kimball, Minnesota spokesman for the Obama campaign, called Bachmann's criticisms "scare tactics and false attacks" and said Republicans are using them in order to distract voters from discussions of the economy.
During the TV interview, Bachmann also singled out a comment that Obama's wife, Michelle, made earlier in the year in which she remarked that "for the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country." "And so these are very anti-American views," Bachmann said on the show.
Matthews also asked Bachmann, "How many people in Congress of the United States do you believe are anti-American?" Bachmann replied, "I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out, are they pro-America or anti-America?"
Michelle Marston, spokeswoman for Bachmann's reelection campaign, said it's "perfectly legitimate for the American people to want to know how all this informs his policy positions and what direction an Obama Administration would want to lead the nation."
Minnesota Democratic Party Chairman Brian Melendez said Bachmann was playing with fire. "The last politician who used that term that carelessly was Joe McCarthy, and Michele Bachmann seems anxious to step into his shoes," Melendez said.
A day earlier at a debate in St. Cloud with her Democratic opponent, Elwyn Tinklenberg, Bachmann spoke kindly of Obama.
"If the presidency would somehow go to Barack Obama, I would welcome him to the 6th District as well," Bachmann said after the debate. "As a matter of fact, I would put my hand on his shoulder and give him a kiss if he wanted to" -- a reference to when Bachmann gained notoriety for grabbing President Bush's shoulder after his 2007 State of the Union address and holding on until he kissed her.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)