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Swiss amiss: Rep. Bachmann drops Swiss citizenship

Thursday - 5/10/2012, 6:12pm  ET

By STEVE KARNOWSKI
Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann ended her Swiss citizenship less than diplomatically Thursday, saying she was giving it up to prove she is a "proud American citizen."

The Minnesota Republican said Thursday that she had written to the Swiss Consulate asking to withdraw her citizenship just two days after it was first reported that she had taken steps to affirm it. Bachmann had drawn flak from critics who noted that Switzerland has universal health care, something Bachmann vigorously opposes.

"I took this action because I want to make it perfectly clear: I was born in America and I am a proud American citizen. I am, and always have been, 100 percent committed to our United States Constitution and the United States of America," Bachmann said.

If the Swiss were offended by her snub, they didn't show it.

"The Embassy does not comment on this private decision by Mrs. Bachmann," Norbert Baerlocher, a spokesman for the Swiss Embassy in Washington, said in an email. He did confirm that the Swiss Consulate in Chicago had received Bachmann's request via email.

Bachmann spokeswoman Becky Rogness declined to comment on whether Bachmann's office had any concerns about offending the Swiss. Rogness said the congresswoman was not available for an interview.

Bachmann's move came two days after Swiss TV broke the news that she had registered for Swiss citizenship, which she initially dismissed as a "non-story." By Wednesday, her office was scrambling to clarify how she had acquired Swiss citizenship.

Rogness initially said Bachmann had been eligible for it because her husband, Marcus, was of Swiss descent, and that the family recently went through the process together because some of their children wanted to do it. Bachmann issued a statement later Wednesday saying her dual citizenship had been automatic upon her marriage in 1978.

The campaign of her Democratic opponent for re-election, businessman Jim Graves, insinuated she might have divided loyalties.

"Earlier this year, Rep. Michele Bachmann was Iowan, earlier this week she was Swiss and today she's an American," Graves campaign spokesman Donald McFarland said in a statement Thursday. "Jim Graves has always known where he's from, where he raised his family and where he built his businesses _ St. Cloud Minnesota."

Bachmann ran unsuccessfully for the Republican presidential nomination and had touted her Iowa roots while campaigning in that state. A founder of the congressional Tea Party Caucus, Bachmann represents Minnesota's 6th District.


(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)