Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann suggested that Hurricane Irene, the storm that has killed at least 20 and has caused billions of dollars in damages to the eastern seaboard of the US, was God's warning to lawmakers to limit the size of government.
"I don't know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We've had an earthquake; we've had a hurricane. He said: 'Are you going to start listening to me here? Listen to the American people ... They know the government is on a morbid obesity diet and we've got to rein in spending," Ms Bachmann, a Minnesota congresswoman and Republican presidential candidate, said at a campaign appearance in Florida on Sunday.
A spokeswoman for Ms Bachmann, a devout Christian, did not immediately respond to a query from the Financial Times but she told Talking Points Memo, a news blog, that the comments were clearly meant "in jest".
The remarks, which were repeated later in a lighthearted manner and drew laughs from the audience, could nevertheless haunt Ms Bachmann at a time when the lawmaker's campaign is struggling to remain relevant following the entry of Rick Perry, the Texas governor, into the Republican contest. Ms Bachmann narrowly won the Ames straw poll in Iowa in early August, which was seen as a sign of the strength of her campaign.
But she has been foreshadowed in recent weeks by Mr Perry, whose candidacy has attracted many of the same voters Ms Bachmann is courting: ultra-conservative Tea Party Republicans and Christian conservatives.
Republican voters will have an opportunity to watch Ms Bachmann and Mr Perry compete on a national stage next week, when both will appear at a Republican debate that will mark the Texas governor's first appearance among other top Republican contenders.
Source: Financial Times | Stephanie Kirchgaessner in Washington