Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann has been on the defensive this weekend, saying repeatedly on the Iowa campaign trail that she doesn't hate Muslims. "I don't hate Muslims. I love the American people," she told Iowa voters. Speaking to ABC she reiterated the denial, adding the idea was "outrageous."
Bachmann's statements come in response to an escalating feud between her and presidential contender Ron Paul over Iran. The dispute began at Thursday's Fox News debate, when the two got in a heated disagreement over how best to handle the threat of a nuclear Iran. Paul insisted there is no evidence that Iran has nuclear weapons, and said it would be very dangerous for a president to bomb the country in an overreaction. Bachmann responded, "I think I have never heard a more dangerous answer for American security."
Appearing on "The Tonight Show" With Jay Leno the following night, Paul was asked to weigh in on the other Republican presidential candidates during the lightning round segment. "She doesn't like Muslims," he said about Bachmann, "She hates Muslims. She wants to go get 'em."
Paul had short digs for some of the other candidates too. He said Santorum can't stop talking about gay people and Muslims. About Mitt Romney: "He was governor of Massachusetts... Maybe that's where he should stay at."
In an interview on Fox News' "Huckabee" Saturday evening, Bachmann took her defense a step further, claiming the real hate is coming from Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. "He hates Jews. He hates Jews in Israel, and he hates the American people."
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this piece incorrectly identified the show Bachmann appeared on as "The Late Show." It was "The Tonight Show."
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