Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, a Republican candidate for president and outspoken evangelical Christian, said at a political rally in Florida Sunday that Hurricane Irene was a sign from God warning Washington to end its big-spending ways.
She later said she was joking and did not mean to make light of the hurricane, which is blamed for the deaths of 30 people, or last week's 5.8 magnitude east-coast earthquake. But the remarks raised a few eyebrows, considering some of the controversy that's attended Bachmann's religious views so far in the campaign.
"I don't know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians," Bachmann said in Sarasota, Fla. "We've had an earthquake; we've had a hurricane. He said, 'Are you going to start listening to me here?' Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now. They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we've got to rein in the spending."
She told a reporter after the event that she was "speaking in a humorous vein" about the federal government's financial problems, and that her thoughts and prayers were with the victims of Hurricane Irene.
"I think what we’re seeing in this country is we have to have a margin financially," Bachmann explained. "We are so out over the cliff financially, we don’t have the margin we need anymore" to deal with emergencies that come up.
In the past, Bachmann has said that homosexuality is "of Satan" and praised intellectuals who argue that Christians have a duty to take control of the nation and run it according to Biblical principals. (During the campaign, she says she's running for president, not to judge anybody.)
And during an Aug. 10 debate, Bachmann was pointedly asked if she would "submit" to her husband, Marcus, if she were in the Oval Office - a reference to her use of the New Testament passage that suggests wives are subordinate to their husbands in marriage.
She said that in the Bachmann marriage, submission "means [mutual] respect."