Retired Lt. Col. Allen West spent more than 20 years in the Army, including several tours in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Gulf, before deciding to enter politics. West was one of 32 black Republicans to run for federal office last fall, and one of two who made it into the House.
In November, West handily beat incumbent Ron Klein in a South Florida district that includes West Palm Beach and Boca Raton. His eloquence, unyielding conservatism and habit of speaking from principle quickly made him a hero to conservatives. In February, West gave the keynote address at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington.
TheDC’s Ginni Thomas recently visited Rep. West in his office:
On what surprises him most about working in Washington, D.C.
“I’ve never seen people that are so comfortable with lying in my life.”
Under what conditions would he agree to increase the debt limit?
“We have to put this whole debt ceiling thing to rest. It should never come up again…”
On civility and the tactics used against him.
“There really is no civility out there unless you agree with liberal progressives.”
On the double standard for black conservatives.
“On the other side they can sit back and say or do anything they want to a person such as myself, or as your husband, because we are the guys that they fear.”
Who are America’s enemies right now?
“At a strategic level, you fight against a thought process or an ideology that is the antithesis to who you are and what you believe in and it is a threat to your way of life and your civilization… [Our nation’s] ‘national security strategy’ [mentions] global warming … more so than Islamic terrorism, Muslim extremism, jihadism, or anything of that nature.”
What is at stake in our politics today?
“…an incredible ideological chasm is developing in the United States of America. It really is a question of how do you see government interacting with the individual, with society, and also with our private sector.”
On Obama’s foreign policy.
“I don’t see a foreign policy….I think it is whatever United Nations would like us to do, we’ll try to do it.”
On the death of Osama bin Laden.
“The message that we have to send to this very vicious, very vile, very determined enemy [is] that we will not rest until we find you and we eliminate you, and we will do it in the most violent means or measures necessary.”
On the qualities of a Republican presidential nominee and on the idea of a West candidacy.
“The most important thing about the Republican Party, they’ve got to get away from leadership by entitlement.”
On his favorite books.
What might people not know about Allen West?
For more on Rep. Allen West:
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