Two weeks before the midterm elections, the heated Florida Congressional race in the 22nd district between Allen West and Democrat incumbent Ron Klein just got a little nastier.
In a press release sent out Wednesday afternoon, the West campaign responded to the Florida Democratic Party and the Klein campaign for labeling some of West’s supporter as “thuggish”. The release also included pictures obtained by West’s campaign of Rep. Klein with those very same supporters – a group of veteran bikers.
“The hypocrisy is astounding, as Ron Klein appeared with, and courted for support, the same Vietnam veterans he now refers to as criminals and thugs,” said West’s campaign manager Josh Grodin.
“The facts speak for themselves. Ron Klein will say or do anything to try and defame the character of LTC(R) Allen West – a decorated ware hero,” continued Grodin. “Allen has spent a career serving our country, and looks forward to continuing to serve the good people of South Florida.”
He added: “The liberal media is responsible for going along with this political hatchet job devised by a desperate politician struggling to retain power. I am confident that, in light of these photos, the press will finally act responsibly and report the truth.”
West’s association with the biker group, known as The Outlaws, was recently brought under scrutiny when the local NBC News station ran a story about the group. The report noted that the biker group as been characterized as a criminal organization by law enforcement officials.
The story developed further Tuesday when the Klein campaign released a video of a West rally that took place September 25. In it, West supporters – who appear to be bikers – prevented a videographer from the Klein campaign from taping West’s speech and accused him of “stalking” the candidate.
When West noticed the confrontation, he interrupted his speech, saying to the videographer and his supporters, “I don’t want him here. Please escort him away because this is a place of honor and the organization that you represent has no honor.”
The videographer was forced to leave. In response, spokesman for the Democratic Party of Florida, Eric Jotkoff, said on Tuesday that the bikers had displayed “thuggish behavior.”
Backed by the Tea Party, West has outraised Klein nearly two to one and was endorsed by other Republicans leaders like Sarah Palin and Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia.
The Klein campaign has not yet returned request for comment.