Catching Up with Rep. Allen West
Q. Congressman West, you have decided to run for reelection in newly drawn Florida District 18, where there are more Republican registered voters, instead of your current Florida District 22 that will also be redrawn to include more registered Democrat voters. This decision points to a realization that your conservative message only plays well in Republican-leaning districts, and that if you stayed in your current District 22 your chances of reelection would have been substantially reduced. Why do your strongly held conservative principles seem to be so polarizing among the general voting population?
A. Conservative principles are not new -- after all, our nation was founded on conservative principles of limited government, individual responsibility, and a strong defense. The problem is these principles have been ignored by the liberal progressive politicians and certain media which have convinced much of the voting population that government can solve all their problems, will take care of them from cradle-to-grave, and it is our nation’s fault that our enemies wish to do us harm.
Traditional conservative principles are threatening to a populace spoon-fed liberal progressive lies and misrepresentation.
Q. Martin County Sheriff Robert Crowder will be challenging you in a GOP primary in FL-18. Crowder has said that “outsiders shouldn’t be able to move in and get a free ride.” Are you concerned about Crowder’s primary challenge? Will Crowder’s entry into the race force you to make any changes to your campaign strategy or message?
A. Every member of the House of Representatives must stand for reelection every two years. There is no such thing as a “free ride.” It is up to the voters to decide who will best represent them on Capitol Hill. My conservative message is not a campaign strategy, it is my fundamental belief. I always have and will continue to stand for the strong conservative principles on which this nation was founded.
Q. The conventional wisdom among Democrats is that you are “too radical.” Do you resent that label? Do you believe there is any truth to that moniker?
A. What concerns me deeply is that today, the traditional principles upon which this great nation was founded are somehow considered “radical.” Some argue 236 years ago, the idea of forming a nation where power derives from the individual and not from a monarch was “radical.” The fact that patriotism, belief in God and a willingness to fight for our constitutional freedom and liberties is labeled by some as “radical” simply demonstrates to me how misguided liberal Democrats have become.
Q. Democrat congressional candidate Patrick Murphy, who was in a primary battle with Democrat Lois Frankel for the opportunity to run against you in FL-22, announced on February 8 that he is now following you to FL-18, where he most likely will be your opponent in the November general election.
When Mr. Murphy announced his intent to run against you in FL-18 he said the following: “Today our campaign is putting Mr. West on notice. … There is no safe district he can run to.”
Please comment on Mr. Murphy’s assertion that you are running to a safe district.
Q. Regardless of what any Democrat says about you, the fact remains that your message is resonating with conservatives. The proof is you have raised just under $5.8 million from around the nation in the 2012 election cycle.
This is remarkable because it is more than any member of Congress except Speaker of the House John Boehner, who raised $12 million. By comparison, fellow Florida Congresswoman and DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz raised just under $1.7 million.
You also out-raised Florida Senator Bill Nelson, who is running for reelection ($5.6 million vs. your $5.8 million). Why do you think your fundraising ability is so high -- more like a senate campaign than a congressional reelection?
A. The conservative message we profess is resonating across the land. The American people are looking for a strong messenger -- look what happened during the 2010 mid-term elections. More and more Americans are waking up and realizing this country is on the wrong track, and we need to get back to the fundamental principles that made this nation great.
I never shy away from the truth. I will not be silenced by political correctness. A strong voice is needed to cut through the liberal cacophony of the current administration and its mainstream media allies.
Q. Do you regret not running against Senator Bill Nelson, especially since you have outraised him?
Q. As a rising star and leader in the conservative movement with great national media appeal, where do you see yourself in five years?
A. Let me start by saying that five years before I got elected to the United States House of Representatives, I was in the desert of Afghanistan. I could never have imagined that today I would have the honor to serve our nation in the United States Congress. I have spent my life serving my country. I will continue to serve, in whatever capacity I can. Ultimately, that decision is not mine. It belongs to the American people, my family, and God.
Q. If Governor Mitt Romney is the GOP presidential nominee will you ask him to campaign for you in your new congressional district?
A. I think Governor Mitt Romney will have plenty of other priorities more important than campaigning for a freshman congressman.
Q. Do you believe Governor Romney is a conservative?
A. John Locke said: “I have always thought the actions of men the best interpreters of their thoughts.” Over the course of his tenure leading the state of Massachusetts, one might question the conservatism of some of Governor Romney’s decisions. Governor Romney, as a Republican, had to govern one of the bluest states in the country. I certainly believe Governor Romney is more conservative than President Obama.
Q. As you know, Florida is a must-win state for Governor Romney in a general election. If Romney asked you to campaign for him or with him statewide in Florida, would you say “yes”?
A. I shall wholeheartedly support the chosen Republican candidate for president -- unless of course that candidate is Ron Paul and we had a discussion and an understanding on where we disagree on foreign policy.
Q. Do you enjoy all the media attention you often garner, especially after you have said something that is perceived as controversial?
A. I believe we need to change the conversation in this country. I believe that we need to challenge the status quo. I believe we need to shake the foundation of the entrenched special interests. Most important, I believe in stimulating ideas and forcing the American people to do what we do not do enough of today: think! What I say is only controversial to those afraid of the truth.