OTR Interviews

Rep. West on Democrats' War on the Tea Party: Liberal Progressives Need a Scapegoat

Congressman Allen West sounds off on Democrats' failure to condemn James Hoffa's controversial comments about the Tea Party


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," September 6, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: So is this war, a war on the Tea Party? A slew of Democratic leaders have been lambasting the Tea Party over the past several months. But did you hear what Teamsters president Jimmy Hoffa just said? He claims Tea Party members have launched a war on American workers. In a defiant Labor Day speech, Hoffa rallied a group of Teamsters to take on the Tea Party.


JIM HOFFA, TEAMSTERS PRESIDENT: We got to keep an eye on the battle that we face, a war on workers. And you see it everywhere. It is the Tea Party. And you know, there's only one way to beat and win that war. The one thing about working people is we like a good fight.


VAN SUSTEREN: Hoffa didn't stop there.


HOFFA: President Obama, this is your army. We are ready to march. And President Obama, we want one thing -- jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs! That's what we're going to tell him!

He's going to be -- and when he sees what we're doing here, he will be inspired. But he needs help. And you know what? Everybody here has got a vote. If we go back and we keep the eye on the prize, let's take these sons-of-a-bitches out and give America back to America where we belong!


VAN SUSTEREN: So what does the Tea Party have to say about this? Joining us Representative Allen West of Florida, a member of the House Tea Party Caucus. Your thoughts tonight, sir.

REP. ALLEN WEST, R-FLA.: Well, I think what you see happening is the liberal progressive side is following the playbook of Saul Alinsky's rules for radicals. And I think it's rule number 13, where they say pick a target, freeze it, isolate it and attack it because they really don't want to accept responsibility for the failed economic policies of this president

In under three years, when you look at the debt, the deficit, the job situation that it's not going anywhere, they have to have someone to scapegoat. And the ones that they figure are the best ones to scapegoat is the Tea Party movement.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, in reading it, it didn't sound quite so fiery. That was obviously a little more fiery -- this is the first time I've actually heard -- heard the sound, and it sounds fiery. As rough -- you know, as rough as it is -- I mean, politics rough. And people say mean, nasty things to each other all the time. I actually don't find that nearly as bad. I think it's just getting fired up and saying something stupid, as I do for instance, what Congressman Andre Carson said...

WEST: Yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: ... because his comment was, Tea Party would like to see Americans hanging from a tree, and what he was saying is they're racist. And that to me...

WEST: Black Americans...

VAN SUSTEREN: ... is far worse...

WEST: Black Americans hanging from a tree.

VAN SUSTEREN: Black Americans -- yes, black Americans hanging from tree.

WEST: Yes. He was very specific about that.

VAN SUSTEREN: Yes, black Americans.

WEST: And I think that that's the type of incendiary rhetoric that we don't need to have. Look, I was born and raised in Georgia, and we don't need to conjure up those type of images.

And anyone that doesn't understand what the Tea Party is about -- effective and efficient, constitutional government, fiscal responsibility, national security, free market, free enterprise -- that's it. And if you don't agree with that, then I have to ask you, what do you really believe is what made America in 235 years? It's not about big government bureaucratic nanny state, but that is the threat that the Tea Party is bringing.

You think about how the conversation in Washington, D.C., has changed in a year from a $2 trillion health care policy and plan to now we're talking about how much more can we cut back on spending and the growth of the federal government? That's a threat to people that believe in the big government.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I guess, though, that -- you know, in terms of the discussion about Hoffa, is that he was insulting and stupid, I thought, nasty.


VAN SUSTEREN: But it's not as -- it's not as -- it's not as big a problem as the racism.

WEST: Yes, and...

VAN SUSTEREN: That's -- I mean, that is -- that is...

WEST: You don't want...

VAN SUSTEREN: That's dirty -- that's really dirty politics!

WEST: Well, you don't want to stir that up because the last thing we need is to go into 2012 and start trying to create some type of racial tension as we go into this election in 2012. And I think that's what is happening when you hear someone like Maxine Waters talk about the Tea Party can go to hell...

VAN SUSTEREN: That one's not as bad, either, I don't think.

WEST: Well...

VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, that's -- that's dopey, too.

WEST: But see, I think...

VAN SUSTEREN: That makes her look bad!

WEST: I think the summation of all three of a lot of what we're seeing, especially Andre Carson's, is really concerning to us. And we've got to get away from that, which is something that the president said we were going to tone down this rhetoric back in January.

VAN SUSTEREN: Yes, in fact, he was on the stage after -- about 20 minutes after Hoffa said that. He wasn't there at the time, but he -- I'm sure he could have been -- he -- some of his -- his colleagues could have told him about it and he could have said something, but he didn't.

WEST: And he still has not said anything.

VAN SUSTEREN: Still -- yes, he -- he can still -- couldn't say something. Exactly right.

WEST: Absolutely.,

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Thursday night, are you going to go to his speech?

WEST: Of course I'm going to be there. I think that you should be there any time the president's willing to talk. I am very concerned about what his points are going to be, if it's going to be just a retread of the same old talking points. I would like to see the president give us something in writing. Give us a plan that we can sit down and we can study, and maybe we can bring it up to vote. But you know, another speech is not what the American people need right now.

VAN SUSTEREN: Are you optimistic that he's going to come armed with something different? I reluctantly use the term "armed," but...


WEST: Well, I'm military. It's OK.

VAN SUSTEREN: (INAUDIBLE) with you! But do you expect him to come with a specific plan or do you think it's going to be just talk?

WEST: Well, based upon what I heard him say in Detroit, it's just going to be the same old talking points. And I think it's something to really try to polarize this argument by putting the House Republicans on the defense. And then he's going to go out on Friday, hopefully, not on a Canadian bus tour, but he's going to go out once again and just start campaigning and say that these individuals aren't accepting my plan, albeit a very bad plan that's not going to turn this thing in the right direction.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is this a campaign speech or is this ...?

WEST: It's absolutely a campaign speech.

VAN SUSTEREN: No doubt about it?

WEST: No doubt about it. If it was really about policy and doing the right thing, just put it on a piece of paper and send it to us.

VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman, thank you. Nice to see you, sir.

WEST: Thanks for having me.