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Bachmann dismisses Fox host's apology for "flake" question

Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., speaks to supporters during her formal announcement to seek the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, Monday, June 27, 2011, in Waterloo, Iowa. AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

Republican presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., is not accepting Fox News host Chris Wallace's apology for asking her if she was a "flake."

"I think that it's insulting to insinuate that a candidate for president is less than serious," Bachmann told ABC's Jonathan Karl on Monday, when questioned as to whether she accepted the apology.

"Those are the small issues. I'm focused on the big ones," she added.

Bachmann, who officially announced her presidential candidacy in Iowa Monday morning, appears to have emerged in recent weeks as a serious contender in the contest for the Republican nomination: on Sunday, the Des Moines Register put the Minnesota Republican at the top of a presidential poll, alongside former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney. The Tea Party enthusiast has also proven her remarkable strength as a fundraiser, raking in $13.5 million for her 2010 congressional race - more than any other congress member.

Nevertheless, appearing on "Fox News Sunday" that morning, Bachmann faced an unusual question from Wallace: "Are you a flake?"

"That would be insulting to say something like that," Bachmann told him, pointing to her record as a lawmaker and businesswoman. "Of course, a person has to be careful with what their words are. And now I will have an opportunity to speak fully."

Wallace later apologized for the comments, observing that "a lot of [viewers] were more than perturbed, you were upset and felt that I had been rude to her."

"And since in the end it's really all about the answers, and not about the questions, I messed up, I'm sorry," he continued. "I didn't mean any disrespect."

Still, Wallace has taken heat for what has in some cases been interpreted as the question's sexist undertone.

"Is this how Chris Wallace would ask the same question of a man?" wondered Fox News' Greta Van Susteren in a blog post Sunday. "Is [the question] hard hitting journalism or something else?"

"We are marching into a very important political season," Van Susteren continues. "It is imperative that we in the media challenge the candidates very, very, very aggressively - but fairly."

In a debate over the matter on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Monday, host Joe Scarborough dismissed the question as "silly."

"I think somebody looked like a flake in that interview, but it didn't look like Michele Bachmann," he said.

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