WASHINGTON -- Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) is hoping to make some money off the fact that he said up to 81 House Democrats are members of the Communist Party.
"You know I am not afraid to speak the truth. That's why I’m the number one target of liberals and their friends in the media who are going completely nuts about my comments at a recent Townhall meeting," reads a West campaign email sent out Friday to supporters. "I need your help to fight back and stand up against the corrupt liberal media as they attempt cover for their left-wing allies."
The freshman Republican landed himself in hot water for telling constituents at a Tuesday town hall that he "believe[s] there's about 78 to 81 members of the Democrat Party who are members of the Communist Party. It's called the Congressional Progressive Caucus." His comments prompted a strong backlash from many House Democrats, including Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who said West's comments were "vicious" and "so stupid" that even Joe McCarthy wouldn't have said them.
But on Friday, West doubled down on his comments, saying the Congressional Progressive Caucus is known "for their extreme left-wing positions," like supporting Fidel Castro.
"The Progressive Caucus advocates for state control over industries, redistribution of wealth, reduced individual economic freedom, and the destruction of free markets. Members of this Caucus lavished praise on Fidel Castro following a 2009 visit to Cuba. They have even introduced a constitutional amendment to redistribute wealth," read the campaign email.
"You can call them whatever you want, but they [sic] point is, they oppose free markets and individual economic freedom, they are determined to empower government to redistribute wealth, and they want to see the nation fundamentally transformed," the email continued. "Their policies are destructive and I will stand up to them regardless of the critics."
The email directs readers to a page on West's campaign website and asks people to help support his "conservative army."
Members of the liberal House caucus maintain that they are not, in fact, communists.
"It's a shame that some have resorted to name-calling. I'm a proud progressive; not a Communist #mepolitics," Rep. Chellie Pingree tweeted Thursday.
UPDATE: 4:19 p.m. -- Later Friday, West's Democratic challenger, Patrick Murphy, launched a petition calling for an apology from the GOP lawmaker. He called West's comments "deplorable and outrageous."
The Florida Democratic Party also hit back with a video called "Sh** Allen West Says," to the tune of the song "Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley.