Florida Republican Rep. Allen West described members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus as “communist” during a Tuesday town hall meeting with constituents. The leaders of that 76-member bloc were predictably displeased.
“Allen West is denigrating the millions of Americans who voted to elect Congressional Progressive Caucus [members],” caucus co-chairs and Democratic Reps. Raúl Grijalva of Arizona and Keith Ellison of Minnesota said in a statement.
Grijalva and Ellison said West’s comments were “reminiscent of the days when Joe McCarthy divided Americans with name-calling and modern-day witch hunts that don’t advance policies to benefit people’s lives.”
The progressive leaders said West “repeatedly polarizes the American people instead of focusing on their interests.”
“When people like Rep. West have no ideals or principles, they rely on personal attacks.” they said, “We will not engage in base and childish conversations that lower the high level of discourse Americans rightly expect from their representatives.”
West’s campaign manager, Tim Edson, told The Daily Caller Wednesday that “some people are going to quibble about semantics,” but that “if you listen to the words of the progressive caucus it’s clear that these people are opponents of capitalism — they oppose free markets, they oppose individual economic freedom — so you can call them whatever you want, whether they’re socialists or Marxists or communists.” (RELATED: ‘Stupid reporter’ misquoted ‘Communist’ remark, says Allen West’s campaign)
This episode isn’t West’s first brawl with his House Democratic colleagues. Last year he attacked Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz as “the most vile, unprofessional and despicable member of the U.S. House of Representatives.”
“You have proven repeatedly that you are not a Lady, therefore, shall not be afforded due respect from me!” West emailed Wasserman Schultz.
West was first elected to Congress in 2010 after a long career in the US Army. An African-American Republican extremely popular with the party’s conservative base, he has been frequently mentioned as a possible running mate for presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.