Tea Party favorite Michele Bachmann has made many foreign policy gaffes over the course of the Republican primary, but the GOP presidential hopeful made her biggest 'oops moment' since her comments on Libya when she told supporters she planned to close the country's (non-existent) embassy in Iran.
James Novogrod of NBC News broke the story on Nov. 30 when he tweeted about Bachmann's statement at a rally in Waverly, Iowa. Bachmann tells Waverly IA crow that were she president, 'we wouldn't have an American embassy in Iran, Novogrod posted on Twitter. The only problem? The US broke ties [with] Iran in 1980.
Bachmann of all people should be expected to know this. After all, the Iranian hostage crisis, when rebels held 52 Americans for 444 days, was one of the reasons President Jimmy Carter was run out of office, and Carter has been a favorite punching bag of Bachmann's since the GOP primary race began.
Bachmann: Embassy Was 'Hypothetical'
Only a few hours after the U.S. Embassy 'oops moment' went viral, Bachmann's campaign issued a statement denying she made a mistake. Campaign staffers didn't deny that Bachmann had uttered the gaffe, however. Instead, they claimed Bachmann was fully aware that Iran had no American embassy, and that her comments were hypothetical.
Continue Reading Below
Neither the campaign nor anyone else has provided a full transcript of Bachmann's statements, but Andrea Mitchell, NBC's Chief Foreign Affairs correspondent, did post an unofficial transcript on Twitter.
According to Mitchel and other reports, Bachmann referenced the embassy while praising the U.K. Embassy's removal from Iran. That's exactly what I would do [if I were president], she told the crowd. We wouldn't have an embassy in Iran. I wouldn't allow that to be there.
'I Haven't Had a Gaffe'
Michele Bachmann's latest foreign policy pratfall comes just a few weeks after the GOP presidential hopeful told Greta Van Susteren that I haven't had a gaffe since the race began. Of course, Bachmann was also referring to her congressional record, but the Fox News segment still raised eyebrows among those who've watched Bachmann make almost as many on-record flubs as Texas Gov. Rick Perry during the Republican debates.
To refresh our own (and the candidate's) memory, here are ten more gaffes from Michele Bachmann, on everything from foreign policy to the idea that medical vaccines cause mental retardation. Counting down from most to least understandable, here are Minnesota Rep. Bachmann's biggest flubs and worst gaffes of the 2012 presidential primaries.
10. John Wayne (Gacy)
In an interview in Waterloo, Iowa, Michelle Bachmann told Fox News she wanted Waterloo citizens to know that just like John Wayne, [who] was from Waterloo, Iowa, that's the kind of spirit that I have, too.
The only problem was that the actor best loved for playing gritty cowboy heroes was from Winterset, Iowa. The John Wayne Bachmann referenced was John Wayne Gacy, the Killer Clown who raped and murdered over 30 young men before he was caught and executed. Though the mistake is a simple one, saying you have a kindred spirit with a serial killer is never a good decision on the campaign trail.
9. Happy Death to Elvis Presley
Not only did Michele Bachmann confuse the king of rock n' roll's birth and death dates, wishing him a Happy Birthday on the anniversary of his heart attack from drug abuse, but also played a portion of his song Promised Land before starting her rally in Spartanburg, S.C. As Elvis might have said: Don't be cruel.
8. Light Brigade Memorial
At a Code Red rally way back in December 2009, Bachmann urged on her supporters: It's the charge fo the Light Brigade. It was a reference to the Crimean War, but not a particularly good one: the Light Brigade lost in that conflict, and lost horribly. They are celebrated for their bravery in fighting a losing battle, something Bachmann fans probably don't want to say is a parallel for the race.
7. The Carter-Ford Swine Flu
Michele Bachmann loves goes after Jimmy Carter for being a weak president, but she raised the eyebrows of both Democrats and fact checkers when she tried to blame liberal presidents for flu epidemics. Unfortunately for her, swine flu broke out under Republican president Gerald Ford, not under President Carter.
6. '100 Percent of Our Economy Was Private'
Sadly, no one video can capture the confusion of Michele Bachmann's views on private economy in the U.S. In 2009 and again in March 2010, Bachmann said that President Obama was federalizing the economy. 100 percent of our economy was private prior to September 2008, but as of Tuesday, the federal government has now taken ownership, she said in 2010. No such state has ever existed near 100 percent, much less at it.
Back in 2010, she made a similarly grandiose statement, but with one confusing addendum: at any moment, 100 percent of the economy could be private. Sadly, this is also totally inaccurate, but it was an interesting attempt at damage control.
5. Lexington and Concord, N.H.
Speaking to a group of conservative activists (tea bag in hand, no less), the Minnesota representative praised the new Hampshire crowd for being the state where the shot was heard around the world in Lexington and Concord. The famous shot, which launched the American Revolutionary War, actually took place at Lexington and Concord, Mass.
Bachmann's statement came moments after she stressed the importance informed youngsters in public schools, saying knowledge, facts and information should always be on the table.
4. Libya isn't in Africa
Now with the president, he put us in Libya, Michele Bachmann said during the Oct. 18 GOP debate. He is now putting us in Africa. The problem, of course, is that Libya is in Africa. A presidential candidate, especially one criticizing a current commander-in-chief on foreign policy, should know that.
3.Founding Father Were Anti-Slavery?
In January 2011, Michele Bachmann argued that America had been founded on ethnic diversity and racial equality. When confronted with the evidence against that-- namely, slavery-- Bachmann insisted the Founding Fathers had all been abolitionists, highlighting John Quincy Adams as one die-hard reformer.
Unfortunately, John Quincy Adams was the son of a founding father, not one of them himself, and the majority of John Adams Sr.'s colleagues, including Thomas Jefferson, either owned slaves or were pro-slavery from an economic, if not always a moral, perspective.
Also to note: We no longer have slavery. That's a good thing.
2. Hoots and Smalleys, Bills and Acts
The congressman, on the floor of House, made this tremendous gaffe, combining historical accuracy with incorrect terminology. Referencing the Hoot-Smalley Act, Bachmann went after FDR for causing the Great Depression, apparently unaware that when Roosevelt took office, the Depression had already reached some of its worst points, with unemployment at 25 percent under Republican President Hoover.
She also failed to realize that the legislation was actually called the Smoot-Hawley Bill, not the Hoot-Smalley Act, and that it was drafted by two Republicans, Sen. Reed Smoot of Utah and Rep. Willis Hawley of Oregon. It was signed into law by Pres. Hoover, not FDR.
1. Vaccinations Cause Mental Retardation
This makes the top of the list not only because it's a gaffe Michele Bachmann has made multiple times, but because it's one with such dire consequences in America. Many times over, the congresswoman has helped spread the rumor that HPV vaccinations can lead to autism or mental retardation in children, despite there being no evidence to support these claims.
Bachmann has repeatedly backtracked from these statements, then used anonymous witness (like a mother at a rally) to re-introduce the false claim, discussing the ravages of the vaccine as late as November 2011. Here's one of them below.