Seven-term GOP Rep. Mike Simpson said Friday that Rep. Michele Bachmann's claim that an extremist Islamic group has infiltrated the U.S. government is a revival of McCarthyism that must be condemned.
"I thought it was outrageous," Simpson told the Idaho Statesman's editorial board Friday. "We don't need to go back to those days. I thought we'd learned our lesson when (Sen. Joseph) McCarthy (R-Wis.) finally went down."
Simpson lamented that publicity about the former presidential candidate from Minnesota stains the Republican Party. "Unfortunately, it's not just Michele. The public says, 'There go those Republicans again.' It's a bad reflection on all Republicans. I can't believe the other four members she got to sign the letter with her. Amazing....That doesn't reflect the House Republican Caucus."
Bachmann says the Muslim Brotherhood has managed a "deep penetration in the halls of our United States government" and accused a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of having family connections to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., defended the aide, Huma Abedin, in a Senate floor speech last month. "These attacks on Huma have no logic, no basis and no merit, and they need to stop now."
Added McCain: "When anyone, not least a member of Congress, launches specious and degrading attacks against fellow Americans on the basis of nothing more than fear of who they are and ignorance of what they stand for, it defames the spirit of our nation."
Bachmann wrote that Abedin's mother, brother and late father were connected to Muslim Brotherhood operatives or organizations.
She was joined by fellow Republican Reps. Trent Franks of Arizona, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Tom Rooney of Florida and Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia in writing inspectors general in the departments of State, Homeland Security, Defense and Justice and the Office of National Intelligence asking them to investigate whether the Muslim Brotherhood may be infiltrating the government.
On another national story, Simpson said former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush would be a good "dark horse" choice as Mitt Romney's running mate for president.
"Bush helps you with the Hispanic vote, wins Florida; Florida is not in play if Bush is on the ticket," Simpson said. "The negative is that his last name is Bush. That brings up a challenge. But, frankly, I think Jeb is probably -- I don't know if 'sharpest' is the right word -- but I think he's the most attractive of all the Bushes."
Simpson said Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman and Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell also would be good choices who would help in key states.
But Simpson said Bush, who served eight years as governor, has experience that Rubio, a freshman senator, lacks.
"Jeb has more gravitas," Simpson said. "He's been the governor of a state. He hasn't been in Washington. I think the knock against Rubio -- although I think Rubio is a great guy and has a real future -- is that he's still pretty young and fairly inexperienced. Almost as inexperienced as Obama was when he ran for president."
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