Allen West, uncut

A candid conversation with South Florida's rising Tea Party star.

The light is dim and smoky inside the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8182 in Pompano Beach. Red, white, and blue slogans brighten the low walls and ceilings, urging patrons to "Thank a Vet" and to remember "Freedom Is Not Free."

At the far end of the small, bunker-size room, two men in white T-shirts take a break from shooting pool to amble up to the sticky wooden bar. It's a Tuesday, not quite 4 p.m. They order Jäger bombs. One of them lights a cigarette. His friend, whose pale-brown hair is shaved militarily close to his head, counts as the barkeep pours: "Three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, 11, Mississippi." Behind him, on dual TV screens, Eddie Murphy cackles with Dan Aykroyd in the '80s classic movie Trading Places. Boredom hangs in the stagnant air.

Eventually, the door swings open, and a flood of harsh sunlight enters the room. A politician in a fitted suit and stylish blue tie appears. He wears round, wire-framed glasses, and his hair is tinged with a distinguished sprinkling of gray.

"Don't try to blow sunshine up my butt," West told a critic.
Michael McElroy
"Don't try to blow sunshine up my butt," West told a critic.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) introduced a bill to drastically change Medicare.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) introduced a bill to drastically change Medicare.

U.S. Rep. Allen West has never been to this post before. He doesn't drink or smoke or frequent bars in the middle of the day. But he is a veteran of a foreign war and has chosen this spot for a one-on-one interview.

Two years ago, West, 50, was a little-known veteran from the Broward suburb of Plantation whose resumé included one failed congressional campaign and a 22-year Army career. He rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel but in 2003 faced military criminal charges for shoving an Iraqi detainee's head into a barrel during an interrogation and firing a pistol into the barrel. Army investigators found probable cause to call the incident aggravated assault, but a hearing officer dismissed the case. West was punished with a fine of $5,000 and resigned from the military the next year with an honorable discharge and full benefits.

Last November, he was swept into office by the wave of Tea Party popularity that flooded Florida and the nation. An avalanche of individual supporters and major conservative donors, such as House Speaker John Boehner's Freedom Project PAC, helped raise $6.5 million for his campaign. He comfortably beat Democratic incumbent Ron Klein with 54 percent of the vote in a swing district that covers a large eastern swath of Broward and Palm Beach counties and includes Boca Raton, Deerfield Beach, and Palm Beach Gardens.

Now, just a few months into his freshman term in the U.S. Congress, West is a national Tea Party favorite — proudly far-right, beloved by followers, loathed by the left. The first Republican to join the Congressional Black Caucus in 14 years, he's been profiled by the New York Times and made appearances on Meet the Press and PBS NewsHour. Glenn Beck has endorsed him for president, and he's been mentioned as a possible vice presidential running mate for Donald Trump.

As Barack Obama's popularity has declined, West has become a perfect foil for the president. Where Obama is pragmatic and nuanced, West is dogmatic and unwavering. Whether waging war on Islam or defending tax cuts for the wealthy, he rarely speaks in shades of gray. New Times set out to discover the man behind the sound bites.

(Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity. To hear the full interview, visit blogs.browardpalmbeach.com/pulp.)

One of the things you've talked about a lot is misconceptions of you in the media. What do you think are the top three?

I don't know, the fact that people were saying that I was a member of an all-white motorcycle gang,1 that I dealt drugs, that I ran prostitutes.2 Debbie Wasserman Schultz designing a protest outside my campaign headquarters saying that I'm a misogynist, that I hate women.3 It's the type of demagogic rhetoric that comes from people that really can't articulate the issues, and all they do is try to attack your character, which I think is reprehensible.

Any other big misconceptions?

Like I said, all you have do is go back and look at previous articles from the Broward New Times. I think you've got a lot of those misconceptions.4

During your campaign, you said, "A nation goes to war against an ideology. We are against something that is a totalitarian, theocratic, political ideology, and it is called Islam." Could you explain? Are you talking about the religion of Islam?

I'm talking about an ideology; I'm not talking about a religion. I'm talking about an ideology that, if you study the evolution of it, is totalitarian in nature. I don't think that you as a young lady have the exact same type freedoms that you have here in the United States of America... So I think that's a very antithetical ideology to who we are and our freedoms and liberties...

This is one thing that's very interesting, how the people on the left always talk about separation of church and state. When you look at the theocracies all across the Middle East, where we look at constitutions that are based upon the Koran, I don't think you want to see that happening in the United States of America. So it is a theocratic political construct.

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Sb072650
Sb072650

This is a True American and we should salute this man. He deserves high respect from all Americans.

Jetman1979
Jetman1979

I would really like to know why it is that some of the so called America people that wish to see America go down in flames. Have we all not had the best that life can give us by living in America. We have not had to suffer like those who live in the third world.Wouldn't you want to fight to keep it that way?Yes, both parties are at fault for what is going on in America but it is We the American People that still have the power to rule over the government.I don't know who of you understand what is taking place in America but the big clue is history, it is being repeated. America people are being treated with no respect and our on government has planted this seed. Look at how people act, most would just as soon as knock your head off than to try and get along, to take the time to stop and think about their actions, they just act out.

NoSacredCow
NoSacredCow

He (Allen West) sure defers to an imaginary friend ("god") a lot doesn't he?

fan
fan

Honerable discharge and full military benefits? No wonder he turned to politics....

Etbizsolutions
Etbizsolutions

TODAY'S REPUBLICAN­S ARE AMERICA'S ENEMY WITHIN

Republican­s ARE practicing seditious DEMAGOGUER­Y and anti-democ­racy OBSTRUCTIO­NISM intended to destabiliz­e our economy for purposes of social, political and financial exploitati­on.

Republican­s AREN'T making a sincere effort to STOP the bleeding THEIR incompeten­t leadership and failed policies created. Instead, they're using inflammato­ry lies and false accusation­s as a smokescree­n to conceal their subversive agenda, which is to CAUSE the American economy to collapse and fail so they can blame Democrats for the consequenc­es of THEIR calamitous mismanagem­ent.

Republican­s ARE prepostero­usly professing that THEIR disgracefu­l political WHORING had nothing to do with the banking, real estate, stock market and employment catastroph­es that resulted.Republican­s ARE trying to hamstring Democrats to prevent them from repairing the damage caused during a Republican presidency enabled by Republican Senators and Representa­tives.

Republican­s ARE offering ridiculous arguments meant solely to disrupt and prevent constructi­ve change. They'd rather create the suffering of American families than endure the political consequenc­es of human-cent­ered effective governance­.

Republican­s AREN'T the LOYAL OPPOSITION­; they ARE the ENEMY WITHIN whose mercenary priorities have eroded THEIR moral and ethical standards to the point that duplicity and betrayal have become their preferred modus operandi.

It's one thing to advocate conservati­ve beliefs; it's another thing entirely to willfully sabotage America's government because a Democratic presidency would not be vulnerable to the avarice, fears and bigotries that have produced and sustained the despicable Republican anti-human­ity corporatis­m and anti-Chris­tian faux theocracie­s that are poisoning and crippling American society.

Cocofrio9
Cocofrio9

You write to much, I could hardly finish your unintelligent verbal rant. Stay calm. In this country we only have 2 political parties and sorry to enlight you but Republicans are the only party that could save this country from the debacle that Democrats have created. So yes, calm down.

And experience the inevitable.

Etbizsolutions
Etbizsolutions

GET OFF of AM Radio, you teabag dunce, and study real HISTORY!!!WHO was President and IN charge when the us economy tanked, went in the ditch, in 2007 and 2008... losing 750,000 JOBS per Month? NAME two things that your Republicans have done in the past 25 years to better America and help working people in America?Let Me spare you the embarrasment, the answer is ZERO! I don't pledge loyalty to any party, so unlike you teabags, I can easily detect the bat-crap nonsense without having wingnut Am Radio and Fixed News plant it in my brain. NO wonder you all believe that the "quitter" Air Head Sarah Palin is qualified to be president! This is why you Repukes NOW have a bunch of DUNCE elected socalled leaders. What a MESS!

Pedro_lara51
Pedro_lara51

Always the liberals attacking a candidate that stands for the rights of the American people. WE THE PEOPLE. And I tell you what that Iraqi detainee probably deserved it because and I'm sure he was mouthing off trying to be a wise guy.

EASTLaw
EASTLaw

Allen West standing up for the rights of the American people? Are you serious, what a joke! I work for a company name VUTEC and every month Allen West come to check the boss to bank roll his various election campaign, every election season. He is bought and PAID for by Rich Corporate America. He will send you under the Bus Before he put his RICH friends under it. NEXTIME you talk to West as him about Vutec Corporation and see how quick he switch gear!

nanook5
nanook5

voting for the patriot act & ending medicaid stands for the rights of american people? pffft he has not once done anything approaching such a thing

Pedro_lara51
Pedro_lara51

I had told someone before that Allen West could possibly be the best chance that the Republicans have. That would level the playing field and the race card could not be used in the general election. Obama will still try to use it anyway but to no avail. And another thing Allen West is not arrogant or on a ego trip. Like Obama is.

Swlipblog
Swlipblog

It's always amusing to read how utterly baffled young liberals are by conservatives. Allen West is a great American, as opposed to the left-wing moron in the WH.

Michael
Michael

That's for sure. Maybe the most admirable politician today. A man of true American Christian-Judeo principles. I live in his district and I can't wait to shake his hand.

Pat Riley
Pat Riley

This guy is crazy!! He doesn't like my black people, and especially my Heat players. We love pot, so who cares about this Uncle Tom....PR

Joe Snow
Joe Snow

That should say, Allen West cut, as he had his balls whacked off by a liberal woman.

Michael
Michael

Doesn't seem that way--unless you add the footnotes that West didn't have the opportunity to address. Tyoical cowardly liberal journalism.

robert stuart
robert stuart

Rep. West was fined $5,000 for firing a weapon into a barrel of water that frightened an Iraqi who was trying to kill Col. West's American soldiers but Pres. Obama is lauded for putting a bullet into the head of bin Laden? I applaud the actions of both men.

nanook5
nanook5

i'm sure if that treatment were re-enacted on you you'd call it what it was, torture. but it's an "evil terrorist" so he was just "frightened." ffs.

Elinjaim
Elinjaim

I heard this man and was very impressed by his ideas and belief. He is a true American.

VeteranPatriot
VeteranPatriot

What is it with the liberal left, haters all of you, the so call conservative patriots racist, you know the racist Tea Party groups, we except that Allen West as an American and that he like, we' the thinking people of America wants to change the soft tyranny back to freedom for all Americans. Yes, even those of you that are worshiping obama. You have bought a failed ideology a lie, and/or you are just plain lazy, you want a government to feed and clothe you and tell you how to live? If this is you our liberal teachers unions have done their jobs. They are SOCIAL EXSTREAMIST and you more so. Not all teachers are pushing for a social RE-adjustment in America. I applaud them, we still have wonderful teachers that are Patriots that want to actually teach. This new Social equality just means, they want you and your kids to stupid to actually have an independent thought. They want everyone on the dumbed down page so they can manipulate you in masses. The more students they can graduate that can't read or write the better they like it. I see a true American Patriot in Allen West a true American leader so, who again is the real racist, & most hating political group in America? Let me help those of you that are impaired, liberal democrats are the biggest group of R A C I S T & HATERS. Let intelligent's ring.

irony
irony

"let intelligent's ring? wtf man...its intelligence. Did someone dumb you down?

GonZo
GonZo

Probably the fruit of a leftist liberal public education teacher!

Rocketmanp123
Rocketmanp123

He should stick with the military. Getting rid of Medicare and social security is not an option. It is acceptable to give the banks and unions a bailout and reward them for bad practices. Their reward is stolen from seniors and children. How sick can you get?

f b
f b

This guy is an opportunistic clown. He actually was quoted saying that he has a higher security clearance than the president. That he wanted Klein and his supporters to have fear when they went outside. That if you like medicare you are unamerican. All the tea baggers got elected through opportunism that's all. Low democratic turnout and kick "everybody out" because the alternative will be much better mentality..... yeah good reasoning Broward county

Mas 3333
Mas 3333

Uncle West is a Uncle Tom who money and an office. You can put a suit and tie on a male turkey, but he is still a Tom...He will be a Trump /Palin/Bachmann /Rubio supporter if they let him in the backdoor.

Michael
Michael

Yeah, you like wearing your pants below your behind.

chimu
chimu

After reading the whole piece I can see why there are people complaining about the tea party being co-opted by neo-cons and their fear monger... And Lisa can not be any more naive.

RepublicansDon'tCare
RepublicansDon'tCare

What an idiot. We don't "arbitrarily decide who is rich and who is poor." It's called average income for US residents. It's a known, reported fact. And $250,000 is far, far above that average.

Amasuah
Amasuah

When USA was born, there were no federal taxes. We became a country because we did not want the british taxation. It all began in 1861 with a 3% on incomes over $800 due to war expenses. Then, in 1894 it was modified to 2% on incomes over $4,000 so that fewer than 10% will pay. Now, you know the rest. ObamaCare has began a new taxation, 3.8% on unearned income for individual earning more than $200,000 per year or for over $250,000 for joint filers. Unearned income is that which we use to compound our net worth, which is primarily used for retirement, college education for the kids, nest egg for the next generation so that our kids don't have to depend on government. Unearned income is interest, dividends, royalty income, rental income, gross income from business involving passive activities, and net gain from disposition of property this will include sales of stocks and so on. Today, they tell us that $200,000 is a limit that only the rich will pay. Remember 1894, only 10% paid income taxes. However, as time goes by, it does not get adjusted and then, the working class will pay this additional tax, that I am sure the rate will be raised but not the income floor. Working class will pay again so government can meddle in our lives and future generations will be at the will of the government. The same applies for the "tax for the rich". Today's $250,000 is tomorrow's $10,000 and we all get stuck with high taxes so people can live off government.

TruthWFree
TruthWFree

But where will the government get their money if everyone gets on the wagon? The Bolshevics tried that in Russia and Mao Tse Tung in China and it does not work. But then, these people do not know history and are doomed to relive it.It is important that a society allows the doers and achievers to have the freedom to innovate and profit from that innovation. If the society pulls down the achievers, we have no light bulb, no automobile, no air planes, no electricity, no oil, no medical improvements, etc....in other words, we go back to the caves or what we see in the Islamic world, stagnation and violence.

ComelyFederalist
ComelyFederalist

It makes sense now. West doesn't go out at all. After reading his own words about liberal women, you knew the man hardly ever reads or has experiences about it. I hope he keeps it that way, he may snap if he finds a wild one.

But nice interview. Pretty tough, I got to say. And one trait that suits West well is his compulsive demand. The man is very emtionally attached; and euphoric as well. He's very self-conscious and maybe even too sensitive(irony?). Even when you told him that Israel wants a two-state, the man called it a lie. Yep, he has Tiger blood and refuses to admit he may be wrong.

I am disappointed in his lame excuse about voting against the Obamacare. So lame and unprincipled. It actually makes sense to why he didn't vote for it: he's compulsively demanded.

But kept his check and some discipline--though he can snap at any time.

And for the record, he's no George Washington. Be tough on him. If GW were alive today, he would be embarrassed to see how they treat him; especially with his allegation in the military. GW was special, Allen West is nothing more than a ordinary American. I'll take Herman Cain than him.

Michael
Michael

Personally, any man who bitch-slaps liberal woman get a hand shake from me.

nanook5
nanook5

yeah! beat up women! so AWESOME!!!

Stephen
Stephen

"Obama is pragmatic and nuanced"

Stopped reading right there. What a joke.

sfmywords
sfmywords

Explain what you mean? Is neither of those things? Do you not understand what those words ean? I' just not sure of what you coent is trying to say. Not trying to insult you.

josephcooke
josephcooke

Is Allen West the man to lead the crusade against the liberal influence in the US?

Liberals are the problem. 2012. Solve the problem.

sfmywords
sfmywords

Generic- please elaborate...

HankS_FtLauderdale
HankS_FtLauderdale

Congressman West did a great job answering all of Ms Rabs face-to-face questions!

Michael
Michael

Anybody who takes on Allen West better be prepared to be bitch-slapped.

nanook5
nanook5

Anyone can objectively look at this quote and see an enemy of the people, anywhere, any place:"I don't know why we have people arbitrarily deciding who is rich or who is poor. That's a very socialist perspective."Allen West, let me get all socialist on you: You are rich, the corporations that contribute to your campaigns are rich, the people you give tax cuts to are rich. The people you represent, the people that are your "constituents," are mostly poor, and you are trying to cut their social services, their ability to get healthcare, their rights to privacy and free speech, you constantly preach division along the lines of race, gender, and association to keep them powerless, and every day you and your fellow politicians wage war against them. Where you see something that is "arbitrary," honest people see a system mouthpieced by liars like you to protect cold-blooded murder and robbery.

Rossparker
Rossparker

Hey Nanook I take that personally as I have known Allen West as a fellow combat soldier. Reign in your 'liar' accusation fore I discipline you !!

Kathi Mcdermott
Kathi Mcdermott

I see that a man of character, principal, honest, and a man with a backbone doesn't sit well with the liberal media, and the liberal public in General. Gee whiz I wonder what that says. Needless to say a word of advice to all you left leaning, Obama loving uneducated, I've gone to school people, you will not get away with demeaning, belittling, character assasination, and lies like you did with Sarah Palin. Not this time around, you see we may have been blaise in our response to you when you were lying about Sarah Palin, but we don't need to be hit twice, you won't, you will not, get away with it this time around. Feel Me?

Yeahwecleanthat
Yeahwecleanthat

I'm sorry Ms Mcdermott but your definition of "character, principal, honesty and backbone" are very very very different from the norm (and not just liberal, left leaning norms). And to use Sarah Palin in the same sentence or paragraph as those words takes all and any credibility from your post completely. I respect Mr. West for his fortitude and service but he does not strike me as one to lead a people or even much less represent the common man's needs.

MagnaEstVeritas2
MagnaEstVeritas2

This is to all those who are posting negatively regarding Allen West, Veritas Parit Odium !IF you people, I don't include anyone from CAIR or any other Islamic organisation in this comment as I consider them to be nonentities to use their term Dhimmi .... Allen West was right to use Islam as a part of his campaign, none are to be trusted, America is in grave danger from Islam the Ideology of Terror,Islam is America's Enemy within !!!Jack, your comments are atypical of someone who runs off at the mouth without engaging their brain first, do the research get the facts, and THEN run off at the mouth .vb, you likewise to be somewhat of an opinionated and bigoted racist, and are therefore not worth a response other than to say NUTS to YOU !Folks, get the facts from the man himself before making assumptions quite often facts are not always as the Media present them!

Voice of Reason
Voice of Reason

It is interesting that a massive amount of footnotes were placed at the end of the interview/article and yet Rep. West does not have an opportunity to defend his positions. It is a sneaky and less than honest way to set Allen West up for failure, thus discrediting him. This is poor journalism.

HankS_FtLauderdale
HankS_FtLauderdale

I agree completely. Give the Congressman a chance to respond to your footnotes. Poor excuse for journalism

nanook5
nanook5

how else are you going to filter out the absurd bias that oozes from west's every sentence?

Voice of Reason
Voice of Reason

It is interesting that a massive amount of footnotes were placed at the end of the interview/article and yet Rep. West does not have an opportunity to defend his positions. It is a not sneaky and less than honest way to set Allen West up for failure, thus discrediting him. This is poor journalism.

tim3500
tim3500

The article forgot to tell you that when he put the barrel of that gun to the head of that guy,he sang like a bird and saved American lives.

nanook5
nanook5

do i get to hold guns to americans' heads to save innocent pakistani lives? yeah i don't think so...

Michael
Michael

He saved 17 American soldier lives, you moron. FACT. Go back in your igloo.

nanook5
nanook5

you didn't answer the question, if an american is "threatening 17" pakistanis, can i shove bamboo splinters under his fingernails?

also...if that's a fact, prove it.

 
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