MIAMI (CBS4) – Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann wrapped up her four day tour of Florida with a stop in Miami on Monday.
During a stop in Sarasota on Sunday, Bachmann said she’d consider oil and natural gas drilling in the Everglades if it could be done without harming the environment.
Bachman said the United States needs to tap into all of its energy resources no matter where they exist if it can be done responsibly.
“The United States needs to be less dependent on foreign sources of energy and more dependent upon American resourcefulness. Whether that is in the Everglades, or whether that is in the eastern Gulf region, or whether that’s in North Dakota, we need to go where the energy is,” she said. “Of course it needs to be done responsibly. If we can’t responsibly access energy in the Everglades then we shouldn’t do it.”
In Miami Monday, Bachmann said she was just kidding.
“If you know me, you know that I’m a person who loves humor. I have a great sense of humor, and I think it’s important to exhibit that humor sometimes,” she said.
Millions who lost power, and those who lost homes or loved ones to Irene may fail to find the humor in it, one observer commented at the speech in Miami.
Bachman has also provoked gasps in Florida, by suggesting the Everglades may be ripe for gas and oil exploration. In elaborating Monday, Bachmann again invoked the name of the Lord.
“Let’s access this wonderful treasure trove of energy that God has given us in this country. Let’s access it responsibly. That’s the answer,” she said.
Bob Welsh, a South Miami resident, stood outside the restaurant opposing Bachman’s ideas as “nuts.”
“Cuban Americans need to find themselves a less whacked candidate to represent them.” Welsh said.
On Monday U.S. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz fired back by saying the idea of drilling in the Everglades is irresponsible.
“We need to look forward and invest in the future, and we won’t get there with unthinkable, reckless and irresponsible Republican proposals like drilling for oil in the Everglades,” Wasserman Schultz said Monday in a statement. “As a Floridian, I can see that Michele Bachmann’s outrageous proposal to drill for oil and natural gas in the Everglades, demonstrates just how out of touch Republicans are with the needs of Floridians and all Americans.”
In 2002, the federal government at the urging of President George W. Bush bought back oil and gas drilling rights in the Everglades for $120 million. Bachmann, who wants to get rid of the federal Environmental Protection Agency, said she would rely on experts to determine whether drilling can be done without harming the environment.
“The United States needs to be less dependent on foreign sources of energy, and more dependent on American resourcefulness,” Bachmann said. “Whether that is in the Everglades or whether that is in the eastern Gulf region or whether that is in North Dakota, we need to go over the energy rules.”
“Bachmann’s latest proposal to drill in the Florida Everglades is just another example of the Republican Party supporting policies that would only further enrich the special interests, while putting our environment and working families at risk,” said Wasserman Schultz in a statement.
On other topics, Bachmann said the stock market drop after this summer’s debt ceiling compromise demonstrated disappointment that Washington had not taken more significant steps to reduce spending.
“We need to get our house in order fairly quickly,” she said. “What you saw with the markets was the markets reacting to the fact that Washington, D.C., did nothing to get its house in order.”
She also said she would consider Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who took office earlier this year, as a running mate.
“Marco Rubio has the hallmarks of, I think, everything that a person would look for in a potential candidate. He’s got so much going for him,” Bachmann said, also naming South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint as another possibility.
Bachmann won the GOP presidential straw poll in Iowa ten days ago, but was immediately eclipsed in popularity by the formal entry of the equally conservative Texas Governor Rick Perry into the race.
Perry has become the front-runner in nationwide polls.
In Florida, a recent Sachs/Mason Dixon poll put Mitt Romney out in front, followed by Perry with Bachmann a distant third.
That could well explain why she has become the first GOP candidate to conduct a Florida swing, recognizing that she has some catching-up to do.
“Florida elects Presidents,” she told the crowd at Versailles Monday. “I will be back often.”
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