Rep. Allen West’s (R-FL) campaign is disputing a media report that he said there were 80 members of the Communist Party among congressional Democrats, without naming any. Indeed, West’s team has given a more complete video clip to the Daily Caller, showing the full context: He did name them.
The unedited video shows West’s declaration at a town hall event. “I believe there are about 78 or 81 members of the Democrat Party that are members of the Communist Party,” he said, followed by a long, dramatic pause, during which there were assorted moans and whispers in the audience.
After about 30 seconds, West unfurled his deadpan punchline: “The answer to that: It’s called the Congressional Progressive Caucus.”
The Progressive Caucus is, of course, an internal grouping of the most left-leaning members of House Democrats. Current and past members have included Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (who relinquished her membership after she became House Democrats’ leader in late 2002), Rep. Barney Frank, civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis, and many others.
“One stupid reporter with a local publication misquoted the entire thing, and they all jumped on one press account without verifying,” said West’s campaign manager Tim Edson, referring to the original report in the Palm Beach Post . “It’s all typical West Wing marching orders for their friends in the press.”
Edson continued: “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.”