Update 3:26 p.m. West's campaign manager has now stepped into picture, telling the conservative-leaning Daily Caller that West was simply making jabs about the Congressional Progressives Caucus and not, as they put it, "making an outlandish McCathyesque allegation." “One stupid reporter with a local publication misquoted the entire thing, and they all jumped on one press account without verifying,” Edson told the Daily Caller. ”It’s all typical west wing marching orders for their friends in the press."
The Palm Beach Post, which first reported on the comment, hasn't tagged a correction to its article or its quote (yet?), but here's video of the comment.
The shock, gasps, and straight-faced West don't necessarily make it seem like he's joking or playfully jabbing. It should be noted that despite West's assertion of there being 78-81 members of
Communist Party Congressional Progressive Caucus, there are actually only 75 House members in the Congressional Progressive Caucus. But that maybe isn't the point.
Edson also said:
The real point is these people speak for themselves and 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.
Barney Frank, never at a loss for words, also weighed in with an interview with The Huffington Post. "Not even Joe McCarthy would have said anything so stupid and dissociated from reality," Frank told HuffPo. "It's an indication of the significant deterioration of the Republican Party as a responsible entity that an ignorant, mean guy like Allen West is considered one of their stars."
Update: The backpedaling has begun. Fox News's Chad Pergram reports that a West spokesperson says that West was "referring to the Progressive Caucus" when he was suggesting there were 80+ Communist party members in the House.
Original: It's hard to tell what's more disturbing: That Rep. Allen West says that up to 80 House Democrats are secretly members of the Communist Party or the fact that he and others actually believe it. Granted, this is the same Allen West who once wrote a letter telling DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, that she wasn't "a Lady."
According to The Palm Beach Post, West told around 100 of his cheering supporters on Tuesday that "he's heard" up to 80 U.S. House Democrats are Communist Party members, but wouldn't name names (for the record, there are currently 190 House Democrats). Well, 80 is slightly under the 205 communists McCarthy alleged were working in the state department in 1950... Wait, did we mention that West is actually being considered as a good choice for Romney's running-mate? Just think about that for a while.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.