Discuss as:

'Occupy Wall Street' protesters interrupt Bachmann speech

A group of young protesters took over a Rep. Michele Bachmann event in South Carolina Thursday, chanting and reading from statements in unison.

ABOARD THE USS YORKTOWN -- What was billed as a major foreign policy speech by Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann's campaign ground to a halt during several tense minutes today when a group of protesters abruptly took the stage aboard a decommissioned aircraft carrier near Charleston.

What appeared to be an Occupy Wall Street group read from a printed manifesto charging that Bachmann "parade[s] as a grassroots candidate" while receiving support from a controversial conservative outside group, Americans for Prosperity.

Police led Bachmann -- visibly distressed -- off the stage until the protesters marched from the berth of the ship, chanting "we are the 99-percent," a phrase popularized by the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Bachmann took the podium again and asked, "Don't you love the First Amendment?" 

A man accompanying the protesters who identified himself as a media liaison for the group would not comment to NBC at the event but said that the protest "speaks for itself," adding that it was "intense."

The group later sent a press release to NBC saying "we took advantage of the moment to address the system and the people within it as to the unjust role of corporate money in politics."

Bachmann told reporters following her speech that while she believed the protesters had the right to exercise free speech, they were disrespectful of the veterans who came to hear her speak.

"It was ironic that you had a group of young people and it was a very disrespectful and ignorant move to take action in the midst of veterans who fought to give them the right to do that," she said of the protest.

During her speech Bachmann called for military and diplomatic reforms, while adding that she "stands in opposition to this administration's assault on [the U.S.] national security apparatus."

Bachmann spoke out against sweeping $600 billion dollar cuts to the military she says are threatened by the Super Committee, though in a dig at opponents in the GOP field she said she recognizes that some cuts need to be made.

"There are those in this race who will pander and say that they will reduce spending in every part of the budget, but the military," Bachmann said.

"But I am here to tell you the truth that even our military's budget must be examined for places where we can do more or at least the same with less."

(Governor Perry of Texas has indicated cuts to the military are off-limits.)

Alluding to the controversial interrogation methods used during the Bush administration, Bachmann also said that she would repeal President Obama's executive order, from 2009, that banned the CIA from using any interrogation methods beyond those listed in the Army Field Manual. 

And taking a line from Sen. John McCain's 2008 presidential bid, Bachmann said she would "pursue radical Islamic terrorists... to the gates of Hell."

Bachmann also said she would change the way military contractors are hired, and include the Chief of the National Guard Bureau in the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

*** CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post incorrectly identified Americans for Prosperity as a SuperPAC. It is not. It is a 501(c)3 and 501(c4).