OTR Interviews

Rep. West: Pres. Obama and his 'campaign cronies' don't understand the specialness of the service of our military

Obama and Romney campaigns are closely waiting a legal battle over Ohio's military voting law and its deadline


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," August 8, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Congressman Allen West says President Obama is unleashing his campaign cronies against our military. Now, those are very rough words. So what is he talking about? Well, the Obama campaign's challenge to a new voting law in the battleground state of Ohio. The law allows military members to vote early, right up until Election Day. But the cutoff for the rest of the Ohio voting public is three days earlier. The Obama campaign has filed suit to block the law. They say all voters should have the same extended voting period.

But Republicans say the lawsuit unfairly targets the military, Congressman Allen West posting on Facebook, "How dare this president compare the service, sacrifice and commitment of those who guard our liberties not as special and seek to compare them to everyone else? Barack Obama is undeserving of the title Commander-in-Chief."

Congressman West joins us. Well, Congressman those are extremely tough, rough words for the president. Tell me why you don't want to extend those last three voting days to anyone eligible in the state of Ohio.

REP. ALLEN WEST, R-FLA.: Well, good evening to you, Greta. And I don't think that they're tough words. I think that the preeminent title of the President of the United States is Commander-in-Chief, and if the commander-in-chief does not understand the difference in the services and sacrifices that our men and women make -- I don't think you have many civilians in the state of Ohio that could possibly be 8,000 or 9,000 feet altitude and probably last night in Afghanistan be involved in a firefight or some type of night patrol. I don't think you have many civilians that are stationed in the Horn of Africa or going on some type of special operations mission.

So if we have a president and we have his campaign cronies that don't see the specialness of the service that these guardians of our liberty and truly America's honor are making out there for us, then I don't think they understand what it means to serve in this United States military.

And for them to try to make it a comparable feat for them to be the same as everyone else, that's not what should happen for our military.

And also, you have to recognize that in 2008, you had many voting irregularities for our men and women in uniform. There were many states mailed out those ballots late and our military men and women were not able to return them back in time.

And last year, our subcommittee on military personnel for the Armed Services Committee had a hearing about that. So there's a big concern about what we're doing to our military.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Well, the fact that we somehow can't count votes and do it fairly, that's another issue. I take it you would agree to me that every eligible citizen should have a vote. I mean, the whole point here is not to deny anybody...

WEST: Well, that's not the issue.

VAN SUSTEREN: ... a vote. OK. All right, now...

WEST: That's not the issue.

VAN SUSTEREN: And in the last -- I mean, so if someone can't vote until the last three days -- everybody in the military, I agree, should be able to vote in those three days. Don't get me wrong.

But I don't see why we want to exclude someone -- suppose there's an elderly person who's been sick and needs to vote, you know, the day before, for whatever reason and -- you know, that there's some reason. Do we really -- I mean, do you really want to exclude other people from voting in that same period? I don't understand why?

WEST: I'm not excluding. I'm not excluding.


WEST: And I think one of the things that we have -- you have absentee voting. You also have this early voting. So what we're talking about is those three days that the military's being allowed.

And I find it very interesting that the Obama administration and also the campaign are waiting until now to bring this lawsuit up. This is not something that just recently happened in the state of Ohio, which leads me to believe there's more of a sense of desperation in the Obama campaign than a lot of people are leading to believe.

VAN SUSTEREN: I don't have an explanation. I know that the governor signed something in May, which would probably be sort of a trigger point for it. But I mean, I'm not -- you know -- you know, the election isn't until November. There's a hearing on August 15th. So there's -- there is time.

What I can't understand -- I was trying to figure out why in the world everyone would want to expand it to include the military, of course, but to also include all the other people in Ohio for whatever reasons want to vote in that 72-day period.

I wondered if by chance it was because it was so expensive. There's a cost to Ohio. Some Republicans say that's the reason, that there's an added cost. But we called the county and we called the Ohio secretary of state, and nobody can identify the costs for us. So it's, like, that's not convincing.

I can't figure out why everybody who's an eligible voter can't vote during that time period. Why would we -- why would we not want to include them?

WEST: Well, I'm not there in the state of Ohio, but this is my beef with what is going on. Don't say that we need to have everyone just the same as the military because what you're asking the military to do is above and beyond what everyone else is doing. So if you're going to use...

VAN SUSTEREN: They do stuff for us...


VAN SUSTEREN: Let me just say, I just want...


WEST: You're using that premise. That's what the administration...

VAN SUSTEREN: I don't want -- I don't want to confuse...

WEST: ... is using as a premise.

VAN SUSTEREN: I don't want -- I mean, I know their sacrifice. I mean, I know you know it even deeper than I do. You've actually made the sacrifice. But I've had a chance to visit bases, which isn't the same as actually making the sacrifice -- don't get me wrong. But I've been to -- I've been to Afghanistan. I've seen -- I've been -- you know, I've seen the incredible sacrifice. I'll do everything to -- so that they can have the vote, the members of the military. I don't mean that.

I'm just saying that there are other people, too. If we can, why not give them the chance to vote, as well?

WEST: If we're saying, Greta, that people here in the United States of America cannot take advantage of early voting, cannot take advantage of absentee ballots, then we're talking about I think it's more of an apathy than anything else. And just extending these three days is not going to correct that.

So once again, I stand with the people from the association of the United States Army, the association of the United States Navy, the National Association for Uniformed Services, the Marine Corps League, that see this as a slap in the face.

And I will tell you that this is a continuing episode because we have a president that early in his administration talked about our wounded warriors, they should go out and get private health insurance! So this is a theme that has occurred where it seems that our military gets a back- handed slap.

Also, let's talk about sequestration. When a president is more concerned about reelection and this balloting and things of that nature than worried about the fact that he's about to put 200,000 men and women in uniform out of business, he's about to make sure that our Army...

VAN SUSTEREN: Actually, you know what, Congressman?

WEST: ... and Marine Corps is the smallest since 1940!

VAN SUSTEREN: I'm so -- I'm so with you on that. I don't understand why anyone was not here in Washington, worrying about that issue. I'm totally behind you with that one. I mean, I think it's outrageous that everyone's on vacation or campaigning. Be here and take care of that now. So I'm with you on that one.

WEST: I spoke at a rally today at Pratt Whitney to talk about the almost a million jobs that will be lost not just with our military, but also with the industrial base that supports them and a possible one tick of a percentage point on our unemployment.

So I'm ready to go back to Washington, D.C. And as a matter of fact, the House...

VAN SUSTEREN: And I'm with you.

WEST: ... voted legislation to stave off sequestration.

VAN SUSTEREN: And I believe you. I'm with you on that one. I'm just not with you on in any way doing anything to inhibit other people in Iowa - - or not Iowa, in Ohio from voting, if it -- if there's no reason. But I'm totally with you on the sequestration.

WEST: But I -- but I think -- but I think, Greta...

VAN SUSTEREN: And I believe you would be back here.

WEST: ... we do that. Greta, we do that. We do that with early voting. We do that with absentee balloting. So I think this is an issue of people being able to take advantage of those opportunities you have to go out and vote.

We're in the primary season down here in the state of Florida, and people are doing their early voting. We've gotten out and called people about absentee ballots. But we have also got make sure that we protect the military to give them every possibility to participate in the process that they're guaranteeing all of us to be able to take advantage of.

And I think that when you try to make a comparative analysis -- and it's a slippery slope. What next -- what next, Greta?

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. All right, well, I -- you and I will agree to differ on that one. But I have no doubt that you would be...

WEST: Not a problem.

VAN SUSTEREN: ... here handling -- I have no doubt you'd be here handling the sequestration if anybody else would come back to Washington.

WEST: I'm waiting to come back. I'm waiting to come back.

VAN SUSTEREN: I so know you would be. Congressman, thank you, sir.

WEST: Thank you for having me.