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Earthquake, hurricane -- Bachmann says they're God's reaction to politics

SARASOTA, Fla. -- An earthquake, a hurricane within just days of each other hit the East Coast and Washington, D.C. What accounts for this? According to Rep. Michele Bachmann -- it's God's reaction to politics.

“I don’t know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians," Bachmann said. "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.'"

That was met with scattered laughs inside a crowded auditorium here Sunday. Bachmann added that God is demanding that politicians “listen to the American people.”

During a press conference following the event, NBC News asked Bachmann to clarify.

"Our hearts and prayers and thoughts go out to the families of the victims," Bachmann said, adding that the national debt poses a threat to relief efforts.

She contended she was joking about God's intention, but then doubled down.

“What I was saying in humorous vein is that there are things that are happening which politicians have to pay attention to," she told NBC. "It isn’t every day that we have an earthquake in the United States.

"I think that what we’re seeing is that in this country, we have to have a margin -- financially. And when we are so out over the cliff, financially, we don’t have the margin that we need anymore.”

According to the latest reports, as many as 25 people there is a growing number of those who died in Hurricane Irene; 15 people had been counted dead at the time of Bachmann's appearance in Sarasota. FEMA administrator Craig Fugate said he had seen "open source" that there were 21 dead.

The event was the second of two campaign stops Sunday. It followed a morning trip to the sprawling Idelwild Baptist Church in Lutz, outside Tampa. Before the Sarasota event began, a line of several hundred supporters awaiting entry to the building -- a local Shriners Temple -- were greeted by about 40 college-age gay-rights protestors.

Inside, more than 130 people packed the stage directly behind Bachmann's podium. The crowd on the main floor spilled out into the building's entrance area. Sarasota GOP Chairman Joe Gruters tells NBC the event drew more than a 1,000 people.