Rep. Allen West (R-FL) once again sparked controversy with a demagogic speech in Florida this past weekend where he demanded that liberals and President Obama “get the hell out of the United States of America.” Now, West is engaged in a rapid backpedal, appearing both on CNN and Fox this morning to insist that what he said is not actually what he said.
On CNN, West demanded that a skeptical host Soledad O’Brien view the entire speech an realize that “he was simply trying to draw attention to the decline of a country” at the hands of people who hold values that are “not in concert with our constitutional republic.” “And if you can’t understand that,” he added, “please come down to South Florida, you and I can read the Federalist Papers.” Later on Fox and Friends, West told host Steve Doocy, “I did not refer to any person leaving”:
WEST: The other thing is that I did not refer to any person leaving. If you go back and read the transcript of the message that I gave, it was about equality of achievement, it was about economic dependence, it was about enslaving the American entrepreneur’s will and spirit. That message needs to leave this country. And that was what I was referring to. And I think that anyone that sat back and looked at the entirety of that 12 minute, 45 second speech would understand that we’re talking about a contrast of visions of this country.
Looking back at the transcript as requested, it’s pretty clear that West specifically named “President Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and my dear friend, the chairman of the Democrat National Committee [Debbie Wasserman-Schultz]” to “take it to the North Pole, but get the hell out of the United States.”
Nonetheless, West has made a practice of lobbing incendiary rhetoric across the aisle and then blaming the news media for the resulting backlash. Reacting to Fox pundit Bob Beckel’s demand that West apologize, a somewhat thin-skinned West shot back, “I think Bob Beckel owes me an apology for saying that he would not refer to me as a congressional representative nor as a lieutenant colonel, retired.”