WASHINGTON -- Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) said Wednesday he is considering leaving the Congressional Black Caucus after one of its leaders said Tea Party-backed lawmakers want to see black people lynched.
West's news comes a day after a video circulated on the Internet showing Rep. Andre Carson (D-Ind.), the CBC whip, telling attendees at a recent CBC jobs event that Tea Party lawmakers "would love to see you and me ... hanging on a tree."
"When you start using words such as lynching ... that’s a very reprehensible word," West said on "FOX and Friends." "I think we should move away from using that type of language."
"One of the things I'm starting to think about is reconsidering my membership in the Congressional Black Caucus because I don't think they're moving toward the right manner in which we are going to solve the problems, not just in the black community, but all across the United States of America," he said.
West, the lone Republican in the caucus, said Carson's remark is just the latest example of how the caucus spends too much time attacking the Tea Party and not enough time addressing the "serious problems" in the black community, like unemployment and inner-city violence. Last week, CBC member Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) caused a stir by saying the Tea Party "can go straight to hell."
"To try to all of a sudden have a scapegoat called the Tea Party ... that's just a distraction," West said.
The Tea Party "really stands for basic constitutional principles" like fiscal responsibility and free enterprise, said the Florida Republican. "I can't see why anyone would not want to agree with that and align themselves with those principles."
Other Tea Party lawmakers are taking notice of, and offense at, the recent comments by CBC members.
"I'm a TEA Party caucus member and have spoken at two tea party rallies. I am also NOT a racist. Maxine & Andre - get a grip," Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.) tweeted on Wednesday.
UPDATE: 6:55 p.m. -- In a statement issued later Wednesday, West said Carson's remarks were an example of "race-baiting."
"When individuals believe they are defeated in a political disagreement, they normally resort to race-baiting, which in my opinion is, in itself, racist," West said. He called on CBC Chairman Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) to condemn Carson's and Waters' comments. If that doesn't happen, "I will have to seriously reconsider my membership within the organization," he said.
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