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Michele Bachmann questions U.S. role in Uganda

October 19, 2011|By Maeve Reston
  • Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann makes a point during Tuesday's GOP debate in Las Vegas.
Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann makes a point during Tuesday's… (Chris Carlson / Associated…)

Making a quick trip to California after Tuesday night’s debate in Nevada, Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann sought to broaden the conversation to national security – chiding President Obama for “leading from behind” and accusing him of overstretching the nation’s military resources.

Lamenting the fact that Republican candidates have spent very little time debating foreign policy, Bachmann told a group of "tea party" activists in Pasadena on Wednesday that the president was wrong to send armed advisors to Uganda and several surrounding countries to target the militia known as the Lord’s Resistance Army, which has killed thousands of people over the last two decades.

“Uganda asked us to come in and be in four African nations and deal with a problem that’s been going on for 20 years,” Bachmann told about 150 activists who gathered for a TeaPAC meeting in downtown Pasadena. “President Obama says there’s an American vital national interest, but he hasn’t said what that interest is.”  

She added that the U.S. should not have gotten involved in the Libyan conflict and said she would send a message to NATO to “stand on your own two feet.”

“We can’t borrow 43 cents on the dollar that we’re spending to pay for their defense. Those days are done,” she said. “I am a hawk. But I also believe that I will only commit America’s bravest men and women in harm’s way – only if there is truly an identifiable vital American national interest. And when I commit them, we will go in with full force.”

While Bachmann delivered the well-honed points of her stump speech and took three pre-selected questions from the audience on debt, military budget cuts and immigration, she also emphasized the importance of the tea party in changing the conversation in Washington.        

She told those in the audience that they didn’t need to settle for candidates who don’t share the goals of the tea party.  “I took a movement’s voice into the halls of Congress; now I want to take the movement’s voice into the White House,” Bachmann said to whoops and cheers.  “I may not have been the most popular politician. Who cares? It’s all about standing up for what you believe.”

Bachmann, who spent more than she raised during the last quarter and has struggled to keep up with the fundraising leaders in the Republican field, also pleaded for campaign contributions.

“I need your financial support with the most maxed-out, best gift that you can give to this campaign, because I am in. I’m all in," she said.

The Minnesota congresswoman’s appearance at the TeaPAC event came in the midst of a fundraising swing through California that included private meetings with donors and a fundraiser in Malibu on Wednesday night. At the Pasadena event, Bachmann took pictures with guests who contributed $100 to $150 to her campaign.

Though Bachmann has fallen in the polls since her energetic entrance into the race in June, she is still the first choice of attendee Larry Papp, who said he was supporting her because she espouses Christian values and is “totally genuine.”

Papp, a Republican and retired market consultant from Arcadia, said he has ruled out Mitt Romney because he believes he is a political opportunist, and he will not support Texas Gov. Rick Perry because of his record on illegal immigration.  

His second choice is businessman Herman Cain, who is leading in some national polls.

“While Mitt Romney was running around hobnobbing with the social people in Newport, Rhode Island, Herman Cain was washing cars and cleaning toilets,” Papp said. “That’s what I want – somebody who has come up without having everything given to them.”

Though Bachmann has a narrow window of time to catch up with her rivals in the polls, Papp said he was optimistic: “A lot of things can happen as people start to get vetted."

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