MIAMI (Reuters) - For Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann, Hurricane Irene and last week's earthquake in the eastern United States were a message from God that Washington needs to change its policies.
Even as Irene was beginning its raking course up the East Coast over the weekend, which killed 21 people and caused widespread flooding and power outages, Bachmann told senior citizens in Poinciana, Florida, on Saturday that the hurricane was an "act of God" that Washington should heed.
The Minnesota congresswoman, who has gained media prominence for her fiery attacks on Democratic President Barack Obama and against big government, recalled Washington and the east had already felt a 5.8 magnitude earthquake on Tuesday.
"Washington, D.C., you'd think by now they'd get the message. An earthquake, a hurricane. Are you listening? The American people have done everything they can, and now it's time for an act of God and we're getting it," she said, drawing some laughs from her audience.
Bachmann is a favorite of the fiscally conservative Tea Party movement and of religious social conservatives, but recent Republican presidential contender polls have shown her lagging behind Texas Governor Rick Perry and moderate Mitt Romney, who appeals to the party's business wing.
(Reporting by Pascal Fletcher; Editing by Jackie Frank)