Florida congressional candidate Allen West, a retired Army lieutenant colonel, condemns the construction of a mosque close to ground zero and tells Newsmax that plans to dedicate the facility on the anniversary of 9/11 are “reprehensible.”
He also charges that Democrats are “stirring up the pot on racism” in their criticism of the tea party movement, and says he supports the tough new immigration law proposed by Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum.
West is running as a Republican for Florida’s 22nd congressional district, a seat held by two-term Democrat Ron Klein. In an exclusive Newsmax interview, he discussed the issues he plans to address in the campaign.
“It’s the economy. It’s jobs,” he declares.
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“Look at Ron Klein’s record. In 2007 when he got to Congress, the unemployment rate was 4.7 percent. Since 2007 that unemployment rate has gone up to a high point of 9.8, 9.9 percent.
“And then it’s the economy. People have to contend with the grossly misguided stimulus package, the overspending policies that come out of Washington D.C., which Ron Klein supports.
“We just learned last week that a lot of the TARP funds ended up with foreign banks. Ron Klein is on the Financial Services Committee, so obviously he’s not doing his job and being a good steward of the resources of the American people.”
Regarding the mosque near ground zero in Manhattan and President Barack Obama’s statement over the weekend that the people behind the mosque had the right to build it there, West says: “When he’s talking about freedom of religion, that is one of the rights we have. That’s what this country was founded upon.
“But the thing we have to understand is, everyone keeps throwing out this word ‘tolerance.’ If tolerance continues to be a one-way street it’s going to lead to cultural suicide.
“We have to stand upon our way of life, our culture, and other people need to respect that. We’re not saying you can’t build mosques in the United States, although I do question a lot of the external influences that are building these structures in our country.
“It’s so important that people understand that’s a sacred site, a very special site. Is [building the mosque there] a prudent thing, a respectful thing to the families and the people of New York who still have some horrific memories? And the fact that they want to dedicate this on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, that’s reprehensible.”
He also says the source of the mosque’s funding “is a huge consideration,” as is the fact that the imam behind the mosque has made “incendiary comments. This is not a good thing if you study the history of Islamic conquests against Western civilization.”
West, who has spoken at half a dozen tea party events, tells Newsmax: “The tea party movement is nothing more than a will of the American people to get back to the foundational principles of the Constitution, going back and reading Federalist Papers and things of that nature. So that’s why I think it’s very important to hear the voices of the American people.”
As for suggestions that the tea party movement is tinged by racism, West — an Africa-American — says: “I think all people are trying to do is to Balkanize us. This is an attempt from the Democratic Party, because they know they have a tough time coming up in the November elections, to rouse up this sentiment, this chasm, this divide.
“They’re being very divisive by stirring up the pot on racism, just as we see with this whole immigration battle.”
On immigration, West was asked if he supports McCollum’s proposed law to deal forcefully with illegal immigration in Florida.
“The first thing you have to understand, the operative word is ‘illegal,’ he responds.
“The Constitution mandates that the federal government protects our borders and protects the American people, and the states have the right [to take action] if the federal government is not doing that. So I do say yes, we need to have a program here in Florida that does right by our people.
“It is not being anti-immigrant. The United States has always opened its arms to immigration. But sign the guest book when you come in.”
He adds that the Obama administration’s opposition to the immigration bill signed into law in Arizona is an attempt to rally Hispanic voters to the Democrats’ side in November, but warns that “you’re putting our country in peril” by opposing the bill.
West took part in the Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom operations and served as a civilian adviser in Afghanistan. He was asked if he supports current American policy in Afghanistan.
“I fully support us having victory there,” he says. “But after nine years we’re still fighting major combat operations. There’s something wrong with that.
“We’ve gotten so focused on occupation warfare, on nation building. Those things drain your economic resources and take soldiers away from their primary duty, which is to seek out this enemy and destroy him.
“The number one thing we’ve got to change is something that I’ll be focused on as a congressman — the rules of engagement. They’re too restrictive and they’re giving the initiative to the enemy and not to our soldiers.”
West also says that if he is elected to Congress, he will support attempts to fight Obama’s healthcare reform legislation, in particular by defunding it. He says he does believe we need to cover people with pre-existing conditions, but adds that “there are very few things that are good about that law.”
And he says home builder David Brady, who is also running as a Republican in the 22nd district, is only a “minor obstacle” to winning the GOP nomination.
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