UPDATE, 4:40 p.m. ET — Allen West’s campaign manager, Tim Edson, told The Daily Caller that a “stupid reporter” from the Palm Beach Post took West’s comments out of context.
We updated the video at the end of the post to reflect the full context of West’s comments. Edson said he was taking a “jab” at the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
Florida U.S. Rep. Allen West’s latest headline-grabbing claim has earned him comparisons to the former Senator Joe McCarthy.
This morning at a town-hall event in Palm Beach, he told supporters that he has “heard” that up to 81 Democrats are, in fact, communists, the Palm Beach Post reports.
There are currently 190 Democrats in the House of Representatives. West didn’t name any names.
In the video below, someone asks West how many members of the Democratic Party are “card-carrying Marxist Socialists.”
“I believe that there are about 78 to 81 members of the Democratic Party that are members of the Communist Party,” West responds. Oddly specific, it causes a buzz in the crowd.
When pressed for specifics, a spokeswoman for the West campaign said that West was referring to the 76 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
“The Communist Party has publicly referred to the Progressive Caucus as its allies,” West spokeswoman Angela Martin said in an email to Business Insider, pointing to this 2010 release. “The Progressive Caucus speaks for itself. These individuals certainly aren’t proponents of free markets or individual economic freedom.”
Of course, because the Communist Party has referred to the Progressive Caucus as an ally does not signal correlation. And it certainly doesn’t mean that the Democrats are also members of the Communist Party. No members Congress are members of the Communist Party. And there is absolutely no mention of the Communist Party on the Congressional Progressive Caucus website.
A spokesman for the campaign of Patrick Murphy, the Democratic challenger to West for Florida’s 18th District seat in the House, said West’s words were “divisive” and “don’t need to be in our political discourse.”
“That was exactly what McCarthy did — accuse people without much evidence of being communists,” the spokesman Anthony Kusich told Business Insider. “We thankfully put that chapter of our history behind us. Now, I guess if you disagree with someone on policy, you’re also a communist. I don’t think the American people and the people of Florida believe that.”
At the same event, West said President Barack Obama would be “scared” to have a discussion with him. From the Palm Beach Post:
“I really wish that, standing here before you, was Allen West and President Obama,” West said. “We could have a simple discussion. But that ain’t ever gonna happen.”
“Why not?” an audience member asked.
“Cuz he was too scared!” West responded in a mocking voice.
The comments come at a time when West’s name is being thrown into the ring as a potential vice presidential candidate by a few Republican higher-ups. Both the former Republican candidate Herman Cain and former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin have touted West, a Tea Party favourite, as a potential VP nominee for Mitt Romney.
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