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'Stepping up and standing up'

<p>After Rep.</p>

After Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and a handful of right-wing colleagues launched an anti-Muslim witch hunt, there's been a debate about the impropriety of the crusade, but it's been largely an intra-party discussion. The dispute hasn't been between Democrats and Republicans, but rather, between Republicans and other Republicans.

That changed a bit yesterday. Of particular interest to Bachmann and her cohorts is Huma Abedin, a Muslim American and a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Yesterday, as Ali Gharib noted, Clinton obliquely referenced the controversy during remarks at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Though the Secretary of State did not specifically reference the right-wing conspiracy theorists, there could be no doubt what she was referencing when she said, "Leaders have to be active in stepping in and sending messages about protecting the diversity within their countries.... We did see some of that in our own country. We saw Republicans stepping up and standing up against the kind of assaults that really have no place in our politics."

It's worth noting that Clinton is entirely correct -- several Republicans, including Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), showed some leadership and did the right thing. But many more prominent GOP voices -- Romney campaign advisor John Bolton, Rush Limbaugh, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) -- have done the opposite.

Indeed, at a Romney campaign event in Virginia yesterday, Gingrich not only doubled down on the witch hunt, he specifically defended Bachmann's preoccupation with Abedin. "Who's offering advice to Secretary Clinton?" he asked. "I think it's totally legitimate to ask that question."

Though Gingrich was speaking at a Romney campaign event, the Republicans' presidential nominee has not yet said a word about the proposed anti-Muslim witch hunt.

Leaders have to be active in "stepping up." Some have heard this call louder than others.