Video: Bachmann: US weakness led to Arab Spring

NBC News and news services
updated 9/30/2011 8:56:25 AM ET 2011-09-30T12:56:25

Rep. Michele Bachmann blamed President Barack Obama's stand on Israeli-Palestinian peace talks for the uprisings against autocratic governments across the Arab world.

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At a fundraiser Thursday in North Carolina, the Republican lawmaker and candidate for president traced the mass protests that sometimes turned deadly to Obama's call for Israel to return to negotiations and pull back to the territory it held prior to the 1967 war with Egypt.

Speaking in Concord, she compared Obama's policies to those of President Jimmy Carter in the late 1970s.

"I am probably even more concerned about the foreign policy implications because of what Barack Obama has done to the nation," Bachmann said.

"Just like Jimmy Carter in the late 1970s didn't have the back of the Shah of Iran, we saw the Shah fall and the rise of the Ayatollah. And we saw the rise and the beginnings of radical Jihad which have changed this world and changed this nation," she added.

"So too under Barack Obama, we saw him put a lot of daylight between our relationship with our ally Israel. And when he called on Israel to retreat to its indefensible 1967 borders, don't think that message wasn't lost on Israel's 26 hostile neighbors," Bachmann said.

"You want to know why we have an Arab Spring? Barack Obama has laid the table for an Arab Spring by demonstrating weakness from the United States of America," she said. "The No. 1 duty of the president is to be the commander-in-chief."

Her comments were first reported by NBC's Jamie Novogrod, who is following the Bachmann campaign.

McCain: Protesters 'inspire the world'
The Arab Spring protests stretched from Algeria in North Africa to Syria in the Middle East. Some led to political instability in nations with longstanding rulers.

Story: McCain: Libya inspires people in China, Russia, Iran

Her remarks contrasted with those of senior Republican and former presidential candidate, Senator John McCain, R-Ariz., who is leading a delegation of Republican lawmakers to Libya this week.

Speaking in Tripoli on Thursday, he said the Arab Spring-inspired uprising in Libya was "inspiring" people in Iran, Syria and "even in Beijing and Moscow."

"They continue to inspire the world — and let people know that even the worst dictators can be overthrown and be replaced by freedom and democracy," McCain said.

"How they succeed will also be watched very carefully by the rest of the world," he added.

McCain was accompanied on the visit by Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, and Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois.

Rubio, who has been mentioned as a possible GOP vice-presidential candidate, said the United States should always side with democracy even if it might be tempted not to, in cases where "those in charge of a government are friendly to our interests."

"Ultimately I believe we should always be on the side of a transition to democracy that includes Iran, Syria and eventually I hope Bahrain and Saudi Arabia," he said.

NBC News's Jamie Novogrod, The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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