Rep. Allen West explains 'communists' remark (VIDEO)


Rep. Allen West claimed that 78 to 81 members of Congress were members of the Communist Party at a town hall meeting on April 10, 2012.


Chip Somodevilla

Rep. Allen West tried to clarify his controversial remarks which he made late Tuesday night when he said up to 80 House Democrats were members of the Communist Party.

West's campaign manager told the conservative leaning blog Daily Caller that West was simply joking about the Congressional Progressive Caucus and not "making an outlandish McCarthyesque allegation," according to The Atlantic.

During a town hall meeting in Florida on Tuesday, West responded to a question about how many members of the legislature were "card-carrying Marxists" by saying "there's about 78 to 81 members of the Democratic Party that are members of the Communist Party," according to the Associated Press.

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Angela Melvin, a spokeswoman for West, said, "The Communist Party has publicly referred to the Progressive Caucus as its allies," reported the AP. "These individuals certainly aren't proponents of free markets or individual economic freedom," she said.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chairman, Raul Grijalva, said, "Allen West is denigrating the millions of Americans who voted to elect Congressional Progressive Caucus members, and he is ignoring the oath they took to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution — just like he did. 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," according to The Washington Post.

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The Communist Party's vice-chairman Libero Della Piana also responded: "I just think it’s an absurd way to cast a shadow over his colleagues. It’s kind of a sad ploy." Piana told Politico, "It’s just guilt by association taken to an extreme."

Piana also confirmed that no members of Congress were members of the Communist Party.

Rep. Barney Frank blasted West's comments on Wednesday, telling The Huffington Post, "Not even Joe McCarthy would have said anything so stupid and dissociated from reality." He said, "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."

Here is a clip of West's remarks at the town hall meeting:

West's campaign released a longer version of the town hall meeting clip, where he can be heard referring to the Congressional Progressive Caucus.