Rookie U.S. Rep. Allen West taking bulldog's approach to the job
WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Allen West recoils at the word.
"I am not a freshman," the Florida lawmaker says. "I turned 50 yesterday. I spent 22 years in the United States military. I led troops in combat."
Only a month on the job, West is bucking the seen-not-heard advice given to new lawmakers. He is taking a bulldog approach, barreling to the top of political insiders' lists of the most vulnerable members of Congress. A complex figure, West is:
- A Republican who joined both the liberal Congressional Black Caucus and the rigidly conservative tea party caucus.
- A sharp-talker who rebuked the first elected Muslim lawmaker in Congress and accused his own party leaders of not working hard enough, not cutting the budget deep enough.
- A retired Army colonel with credentials to land an appearance on Meet the Press and regular spots on other national TV shows.
- A provocative speaker who on Saturday delivered the closing speech at a major gathering of conservative activists in Washington, a slot that had been Sarah Palin's before she canceled. (story here)