Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Republican faithful give West a warm welcome

PLANT CITY — U.S. Rep. Allen West thanked a gathering of Republican faithful for turning out in force to see him instead of going to the new Captain America movie.

Plant City Mayor Dan Raulerson spoke for the 350 in attendance when he said no apologies were necessary when West had finished speaking. He said they just met the real deal.

West, who was involved in the recent dustup with fellow South Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, was indeed given a super hero's welcome at the Florida Strawberry Festival grounds.

He was in town as keynote speaker for what the Hillsborough County Republican Party calls its "Summer Dinner — Issues and Ideas."

West was greeted by a standing ovation as he entered the hall at the Arthur Boring Civic Center, and would get three more. It took him half an hour to take his seat as a crush of fans gathered to pump his hand and pose for photographs.

Karen Jaroch, chairman of the Tampa 912 Project, described West as "willing to stand up and give voice to things most of the people in this room believe in. He says what's on his mind. He's the real deal."

West, R-Plantation, drew attention for speaking his mind this week when he described Wasserman Schultz, a Broward County Democrat, as the "most vile, unprofessional, and despicable member of U.S. House of Representatives."

His salvo was sent by e-mail after Wasserman Schultz criticized him on the House floor for supporting a GOP-backed deficit-cutting proposal.

The topic never came up during Saturday's speech as reporters were not allowed to ask West questions.

But part of his speech was devoted to defending the legislation he backed and Wasserman Schultz criticized. That legislation included cuts to entitlement spending and a plan for a balanced-budget amendment. West was elected in 2010, pushing out a Democratic incumbent.

He has quickly joined the ranks of what Hillsborough Republican Party chief Deborah Cox-Roush said she calls the "feisty freshmen," unyielding budget hawks unafraid to speak their mind.

The freshman Republican stoked the crowd with a red-meat speech that emphasized the need to rein in deficit spending and prevent the creep of socialism into the federal government.

"America is dangling at the precipice with one leg dangling over the edge," he said.

His speech spoke directly to his tea party roots, but also to his military background. He urged support of a flat tax, contending 47 percent of working Americans don't pay taxes, placing the burden on the "producers" in the economy.

Fielding a question later, he lived up to his plain-spoken reputation in saying he opposed the ending of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, which allows gays to serve in the military so long as they don't talk about their sexuality. He said people who join the military are required to conform to its rules, not the other way around.

How could he take that position as a former Army colonel who is black, he asked rhetorically. "I can't change my color," West said.

Republicans young and old praised West as having a promising future in Congress.

"You just saw the future of the Republican Party," said former Hillsborough County Commissioner Chris Hart.

Sharon Calvert, co-founder of the Tampa Tea Party, said that West, through his speech Saturday and in his exchange with Wasserman Schultz, has proved himself as a person who speaks his mind and lives his convictions.

"I think he gets exactly what's on people's minds and he doesn't need a TelePrompTer to say it," Calvert said.

Republican faithful give West a warm welcome 07/23/11 [Last modified: Saturday, July 23, 2011 11:03pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Drinking alcohol on St. Pete Beach beaches now allowed — for hotel guests only

    Local Government

    ST. PETE BEACH — Guests at gulf-front hotels here can now drink alcoholic beverages in permitted hotel beach cabana areas.

    Guests relax on the beach near the Don Cesar at St. Pete Beach. Guests at gulf-front hotels in St. Pete Beach can now drink alcoholic beverages in permitted hotel beach cabana areas after the change was passed unanimously by the City Commission Tuesday night. Residents and other beachgoers who are not registered guests of the hotels continue to be barred from imbibing anywhere on the city's beaches.
  2. Man found floating in 'Cotee River in New Port Richey

    Public Safety

    NEW PORT RICHEY — A body was found floating in the Pithlachascotee River on Tuesday morning, police said.

  3. More than 13,000 fact-checks later, PolitiFact celebrates 10-year mark

    National

    ST. PETERSBURG — Bill Adair still remembers the moment when he realized his idea to fact-check politicians could turn into something big.

    (from left to right) Aaron Sharockman, Politifact executive director introduces a panel featuring Angie Holan, Politifact editor; PolitiFact founder Bill Adair and Tampa Bay Times Editor and Vice President Neil Brown at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg on Tuesday. The event celebrated 10 years of PolitiFact and its growth since 2007. The panel discussed the history of the organization and how it goes about fact-checking. [EVE EDELHEIT | Times]
  4. Trump, McConnell feud threatens GOP agenda

    Politics

    The relationship between President Donald Trump and Sen. Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, has disintegrated to the point that they have not spoken to each other in weeks, and McConnell has privately expressed uncertainty that Trump will be able to salvage his administration after a series of summer crises.

    Sen. Mitch McConnell has fumed over Trump’s criticism.
  5. Former Sen. Greg Evers, advocate for law enforcement, dead at 62.

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Former State Sen. Greg Evers, the Baker Florida strawberry farmer and veteran politician, was killed in a single car crash hear his home in Okaloosa County. The Florida Highway Patrol confirmed the death late Tuesday, but deferred any further information pending an investigation. He was 62.

    Former Florida Senator Greg Evers, R- Milton, was a passionate advocate for law enforcement and corrections officers. He was found dead Tuesday afternoon in a car crash. He was 62. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]