During an appearance on MSNBC on Wednesday, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), who chairs the Democratic National Committee, was asked about eyebrow-raising criticism directed at her by Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) on the heels of his harsh words coming to light.
"I have to tell you I was unfazed by his email," said the Democratic congresswoman. "It's not surprising that given the pressure that the Republicans are facing, they're defending ending Medicare as we know it. Congressman West represents thousands of senior citizens which is what I was pointing out and they would face significant increased costs due to the Medicare plan. And, it's not surprising he would crack under the pressure of having to defend that."
The AP relays background on the email West sent to numerous lawmakers as well as Wasserman Schultz herself:
A Republican congressman from Florida turned to email on Tuesday to call a Democratic colleague from the state "vile, despicable and cowardly" after she called into question his stance on Medicare during the debate over a spending cap and balanced budget bill before the House.
The subject line of the email: "Unprofessional and Inappropriate Sophomoric Behavior from Wasserman Schultz."
The e-mail said: "Look, Debbie, I understand that after I departed the House floor you directed your floor speech comments directly towards me. Let me make myself perfectly clear, you want a personal fight, I am happy to oblige. You are the most vile, unprofessional and despicable member of the US House of Representatives. If you have something to say to me, stop being a coward and say it to my face, otherwise, shut the heck up."
In his email, West said Wasserman Schultz has proven "that you are not a Lady" and "shall not be afforded due respect from me!" He said he was alerting House leaders to her "heinous characterless behavior."
After the email from West landed in the headlines, Wasserman Schultz spokesman Jonathan Beeton wrote in an email, "I don't think that Congressman West is upset at the congresswoman, but rather with the fact that she highlighted that he and other Republicans are once again trying to balance the budget on the backs of seniors, children and the middle class." He added, "The truth hurts."
Facing criticism over his remarks, West appeared to stand by his choice of words on Tuesday night.
"Congressman West contacted Congresswoman Wasserman-Schultz directly, as well as bipartisan House leadership to express his concern with her comments and the low level she has chosen to stoop to attack Congressman West," the congressman's communications director said in a statement to ABC News. "The Congresswoman's actions were unprofessional and cowardly. The constituents in Florida see Congressman West as a true leader and a man of principle while Congresswoman Wasserman-Schultz is once again viewed as politics as usual, and her true character sadly shown today."