Michele Bachmann Confronted on Iran, Illegal Immigration

Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann answered questions about Iran, Libya and illegal immigration in an interview broadcasted Sunday on ABC's “This Week With Christiane Amanpour.”

At times, the interview sounded more like a debate because of Amanpour’s editorializing during her questions.

During the interview, Bachmann described Iran's actions an “act of war” in response to the news that Iran was behind a failed assassination attempt on a Saudi Arabian ambassador on American soil. Amanpour, in return, asked her how would President Bachmann “respond to an act of war.”

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The Minnesota congresswoman responded that Iran's nuclear ambitions should be the centerpiece of American foreign policy in the Middle East. “I would take everything at my disposal to make sure that Iran does not have a nuclear weapon.

“They've already stated that they would use a nuclear weapon to wipe Israel off the face of the map. That must never occur. Iran has also stated that they would be willing to use a nuclear weapon against the United States of America,” Bachmann said.

Amanpour was shaking her head and started to interrupt as Bachmann continued.

“I think if there is anything that we have learned over the course of history, it is that when a mad man speaks, we should listen. In the case of Iran, that is certainly true,” said the GOP presidential hopeful.

“Congresswoman, of course, the United States is concerned about the nuclear program. Iran denies that it has one, so it hasn't threatened to use them,” Amanpour remarked.

Iran has admitted to having a nuclear program, but has said that the program is for peaceful purposes – to build nuclear power plants. The United States and other nations, however, are concerned that with the technology to build nuclear power plants, Iran may try to build a nuclear weapon. Bachmann may have been referring to a 2007 event in which Iran's former chief nuclear envoy said that Iran was committed to the peaceful use of nuclear weapons, but that could change if Iran felt threatened.

Amanpour then asked, “How would you retaliate, would you at least consider the use of force?”

“I would consider the use of everything that we need to do to maintain the security and safety of the American people,” Bachmann replied.

The TV news anchor then asked the congresswoman why she would support the use of force against Iran but did not support United States’ involvement in the Libyan uprising, which recently toppled Muammar Gaddafi. Bachmann asserted that the Libyan mission was not in the United States' national interest.

“Again, just briefly, Muammar Gaddafi, who launched terrorist plots against the United States is no longer,” Amanpour commented.

Amanpour then turned to the issue of immigration and said, “You have made some statements that really have people wondering about your attention to details on this.”

The former CNN chief international correspondent then played a clip from a campaign speech that Bachmann gave, where she said, “59,000 alone this year came across the border as was said in the introduction, from Yemen, from Syria, these are nations that are state sponsors of terror. They're coming into our country.”

The quote could be interpreted two different ways. When Bachmann mentioned Yemen and Syria, she could have been offering them as examples of where some of the 59,000 illegal border crossings came from, or she could have meant that 59,000 came from Yemen and Syria alone. Amanpour assumed she meant the latter.

“The 59,000 represents the total illegal immigrants apprehended from countries other than Mexico, but only 11 of them were from Yemen and just five were illegal immigrants from Syria, not 59,000,” Amanpour said. “How do you get those figures so wrong?”

“In the full context of my remarks, I did not say that 59,000 came solely from states that were state sponsors of terror. I said included among them are,” Bachmann clarified.

Bachmann added that her main point was that the United States has failed to secure its borders. “The fact that we have 59,000, other than Mexicans, coming across in one year, certainly poses a threat, but no, I did not say that they were all from state sponsors of terror, so that would be inaccurate for you to report that.”

Amanpour seemed to miss how she may have misinterpreted Bachmann's remarks and said, “well, it is, in fact, in your statement there. I'm hearing what you're saying now to, sort of, talk about what you actually meant.”

Amanpour, still believing that Yemen and Syria were intended as a complete list in Bachmann's remarks, then said, “But, of course, Yemen is not classified as a state sponsor of terrorism. Can I actually move on …”

Bachmann interrupted to again try to clarify her remarks. “That is right, Yemen is not a state sponsor of terror, nor did I say that they were.

“There are, on the Secretary of State's website, listed the nations that are state sponsors of terror and that is what is wrong, and that's what's worrisome, the fact that we do have individuals who are [from] state sponsors of terror coming across, unimpeded, the United States’ southern border and that's why I have stated that within one year of being in office I would build the fence that is so necessary on our border.”

“On that issue, thank you for clearing up what you said last week,” Amanpour responded.

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