Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann fired back Monday after rival Ron Paul told late-night TV host Jay Leno that the Minnesota congresswoman “hates Muslims.”
“I don’t hate Muslims,” Bachmann said Monday. “I love Americans and want to make sure that as commander in chief, I will keep America free, safe and sovereign.”
Paul, a Texas congressman whose isolationist views on foreign policy have set him apart from the rest of the GOP contenders, has argued against engaging Iran over its suspected nuclear weapons program and has opposed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
During a Friday night appearance on Jay Leno’s show, the host asked for Paul’s thoughts on his opponents. Paul said Mitt Romney was a “nice guy,” suggested Newt Gingrich should set his sights on becoming speaker of the House again, and called Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. “a good diplomat.”
His views on Bachmann and former Sen. Rick Santorum, however, were not so kind.
“She doesn’t like Muslims,” Paul said of Bachmann. “She hates Muslims. Yeah, she wants to go get 'em.”
“And Rick Santorum…seems like to him, gay people, oh my God, that’s the end of the world,” Leno said. “He doesn’t seem to talk about anything else.”
“Gay people and Muslims,” Paul replied.
Bachmann and Paul went at it last week during a Republican debate when Bachmann warned that Iran “will use” a nuclear weapon “to wipe our ally, Israel, off the face of the map.”
“And they’ve stated they will use it against the United States of America,” Bachmann said. “… We would be fools and knaves to ignore their purpose and their plan.”
Paul replied that, “To declare war on 1.2 billion Muslims and say all Muslims are the same, this is dangerous talk.”
“Yeah, there are some radicals,” he said. “But they don’t come here to kill us because we are free and prosperous.... They want to do us harm because we’re bombing them.”
Paul was booed earlier this year at a tea party sponsored debate as he argued that the 9-11 terrorist attacks were a reaction to U.S. foreign policy.
Responding to Santorum, who said “jihadists … want to kill us because of who we are and what we stand for,” Paul said: “As long as this country follows that idea, we’re going to be under a lot of danger.” “This whole idea that the whole Muslim world is responsible for this and they’re attacking us because we’re free and prosperous, that is just not true,” he said. As the crowd booed, Paul went on to argue that 9-11 happened because terrorists were unhappy with U.S. military bases in Saudi Arabia, U.S. handling of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and U.S. bombing of Iraq.
“Would you be annoyed?” he asked. “If you’re not annoyed, then there’s some problem.”