Reporter William March has covered state and national politics since 1994. Email
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Does Allen West think 80 congressmen are Communist Party members?
Posted Apr 11, 2012 by William March
Updated Apr 12, 2012 at 11:28 AM
U.S. Rep. Allen West told a town hall crowd in Jensen Beach Tuesday that “about 78 to 81” Democratic members of Congress are actually members of the Communist Party—sort of.
But according to his re-election campaign spokesman, he didn’t really mean actual, formal members of the organized Communist Party, even though he came very close to saying so.
Spokesman Tim Edson said an edited version of a video posted here on YouTube, which he said came from the Democratic Party, doesn’t convey West’s full comments.
In the posted video, the last part of the question West was responding to isn’t audible, and Edson said West’s answer included a second sentence that was cut off.
Here’s the Q&A according to a full video of the event, supplied by Edson:
Question: “What percentage of the American legislature do you think are card-carrying Marxists or international socialists?”
Answer: “That’s a good question. I believe there’s about 78 to 81 members of the Democrat Party are members of the Communist Party. It’s called the Congressional Progressive Caucus.”
Edson’s explanation of West’s answer: “The congressman stand by his words,” but he didn’t mean “actual card-carrying members of the Communist Party.”
“I know people are going to argue about the semantics, but I think the words we really need to look at are the words about the members of the progressive caucus (who are) enemies of the free enterprise system. Their words speak for themselves – call it what you may, communism, marxism, socialism, but they are clearly not proponents of free markets or economic freedom.”
The congressional Progressive Caucus consists of about 80 liberal congress member, headed by Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota and Raul Grijalva of Arizona.
Caucus spokeswoman Jennifer Gore called Edson’s explanation “patently false and ridiculous. There are scores of pieces of pro-free market legislation backed over the years by members of this caucus.”
In a written response, she added, “Calling fellow Members of Congress ‘communists’ is 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.”