U. of Iowa Apologizes for Bachmann Tweet

Republican presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann addresses the crowd during her appearance at a Tea Party Express Rally, held at Water Works Park Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2011 in Des Moines, Iowa (AP Photo/The Des Moines Register, Bill Neibergall) NO SALES

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By James Steward

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — The University of Iowa apologized Thursday for a joke on a school Twitter feed that appeared to refer to Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann as a cougar.

Trying to make light of news that a mountain lion or cougar had been reportedly seen twice in recent days in Iowa City, (at)UIowaPolitics tweeted to its 256 followers Thursday morning: "I didn't know Bachmann was in town. Bah-dum-bum." A cougar is a term used to refer to older women who seek out younger men.

The university removed the posting after an inquiry from The Associated Press. Later, the university sent a Twitter message that stated, "The University of Iowa apologizes for an inappropriate post to this feed earlier today."

UI spokesman Tom Moore acknowledged a staff person was responsible for the message but said he couldn't be specific about whether anyone would be disciplined.

"Because disciplinary proceedings involving personnel are confidential, the university cannot discuss those proceedings." Moore said in an email. "However, actions are being taken to address this situation and to prevent a recurrence."

Bachmann is a three-term congresswoman from Minnesota. Asked about the matter, her campaign released a statement that said, "When you are 55 years old, have had 5 children, and been foster mother to 23 children, Michele is grateful when people don't refer to her as The Old Lady in the Shoe."

As the only woman seeking the Republican nomination, Bachmann's gender has previously been a campaign issue.

An adviser to former presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty apologized in July after saying she brought "sex appeal" to the race, which partly explained her popularity in Iowa.

Oddly, whoever wrote Thursday's tweet had apparently given the joke some thought. On Sept. 2, after the first alleged sighting of what police reported was a cougar, the university tweeted: "Possible mountain lion sighted in Iowa City today. Gotta be a political joke in here somewhere." Then on Wednesday night, after police reported the cougar was spotted near a grocery store on the east side of town, (at)UIowaPolitics tweeted: "I'm racking my brain, but I cannot come up with a caucus related joke for this."

UI News Services launched the Twitter account earlier this year and describes it as "political news and analysis from University of Iowa experts about the 2012 elections and Iowa caucus." Politicians, local and national reporters and pundits are among its followers.

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