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Pat Robertson's 'nuke' idea draws protest

State Dept. spokesman: 'Idea is despicable'

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Television evangelist and Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson's suggestion that a nuclear device should be used to wipe out the State Department was "despicable," department spokesman Richard Boucher said Thursday.

"I lack sufficient capabilities to express my disdain," Boucher said. "I think the very idea is despicable."

A senior State Department official, who did not want to be identified, said the department has expressed its displeasure to Robertson.

Robertson made the comments during a series of interviews on his "700 Club" television show with journalist Joel Mowbray, author of a new book, "Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Endangers America's Security."

Robertson founded the Christian Coalition in 1989 after running for U.S. president as a Republican in 1988.

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Introducing Mowbray on his show, Robertson said that a reader of his book could conclude that the State Department needed a nuclear explosion.

"I read your book," Robertson said. "When you get through, you say, 'If I could just get a nuclear device inside Foggy Bottom, I think that's the answer,' and you say, 'We've got to blow that thing up.' I mean, is it as bad as you say?" Robertson said.

"It is," Mowbray said, although his book never suggests that the State Department should be blown up with a nuclear device.

Foggy Bottom is the nickname for the State Department's Washington headquarters.

In a June interview with Mowbray on the "700 Club", Robertson made similar remarks.

"Maybe we need a very small nuke thrown off on Foggy Bottom to shake things up like Newt Gingrich wants to do," he said.

Robertson was referring to former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who was part of a group of conservatives accusing the State Department of undermining U.S. foreign policy by coddling authoritarian governments in the Middle East.

Mowbray has been a critic of the State Department, especially its visa program with Saudi Arabia. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers in the September 11, 2001, attacks were Saudi citizens.

-- CNN State Department producer Elise Labott contributed to this report

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