A Florida Democratic congresswoman demonstrating outside the office of a black Republican congressional candidate said Friday that her protest is unlike Tea Party gatherings because there are no "pictures of the president in black-face or burned in effigy."
Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and other supporters of Orlando-area Rep. Ron Klein were out in front of the headquarters of Tea Party-favored candidate Allen West to demonstrate against West's contributions to a Miami biker magazine that Wasserman-Schultz says degrades women.
Asked by a conservative blogger about the difference between her street protest and Tea Partiers demonstrations, Wasserman-Schultz said, "Our protest is different because I don't see any swastikas, or any pictures of the president in black-face or burned in effigy here."
"They certainly have welcomed those images and not repudiated them, not asked them to leave," she said.
Wasserman-Schultz's congressional office did not respond when asked to provide examples of Tea Partiers doing to the president's image what she described.
West aides said they didn't recall that ever happening at Tea Party protests in Florida.
"Clearly Debbie Wasserman-Schultz is nuts," West campaign manager Josh Grodin said. "She's a whack job. I have no idea what that means or where she's getting that from."
Surrounded by a small group of folks holding signs for Klein, Wasserman-Schultz argued at the demonstration that West is a "self-described right-wing extremist."
"In fact, he wears his extreme disrespect as a badge of honor. He thinks it's okay to objectify and denigrate women. He thinks it's okay to take away our reproductive freedom. He thinks it's okay to associate with people who refer to women as 'oral relief stations.' Well, we're here to tell him it is not okay," she said.
Wasserman-Schultz then went on to describe West as one of a group of "Tea Party extremists" that includes Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul and Massachusetts congressional candidate Jeff Perry who "have some real issues when it comes to women."
Paul has been accused of kidnapping a woman and making her worship an "Aqua Buddha." The woman at the center of the claim said it was a college prank and she freely participated.
Perry was accused by a woman of standing nearby and ignoring her screams when at age 14 she was strip-searched by a police officer under Perry's command. During an investigation of the event, Perry reportedly alternatively said that he was nearby during the 1991 episode and heard nothing, and later, that if something happened, he wasn't around to witness it. The officer involved was later convicted of indecent assault.
As for West's conduct, he writes for a magazine called "Wheels on the Road."
The magazine is run by an editor who goes by the name "Miami Mike." Klein reported Miami Mike to the U.S. Capitol Police last week for allegedly threatening him. Miami Mike told The Miami Herald that he told Klein he needed a "good a-- kicking, which I'd be more than happy to do even though I'm a lot older than you."
Miami Mike reportedly said he was annoyed that Klein accused West of having ties to The Outlaws, a Department of Justice-designated criminal gang. That accusation followed a local news report showing some guys at a West fundraiser at a park donning a clothing patch signifying a related gang. But Miami Mike said the same patch was also found on men spotted at a Klein event.
As for the magazine, which has as many pictures of good ol' boys as it does bikini-clad women, one contributor endorsed West in this month's edition, writing, "He wants to restore honor, integrity and character to Washington, something that it desperately needs and Allen West will bring it on. Let's give him a chance to work for American Patriots in Washington as he is a true American Patriot himself, unlike most of those brainless dumb a--es currently running the country down the toilet."
As for Wasserman-Schultz, she said if West doesn't address his issues with women, "we will with our voices and our vote." She added that voters can see a "clear choice" between Klein, who supports women, and West "who would take us backwards."
Wasserman-Shultz also said that one protester at a community meeting she hosted "shouted from the courtyard that I deserved breast cancer" because she supported the health care law.
"This is the kind of thing that they allow in their group, and I think it's unacceptable," she said of Tea Partiers.
The latest Sunshine State News polling shows the race in a virtual dead heat, with West at 47 percent to Klein's 44 percent. The Oct. 17-19 survey of likely voters had a 3.46 percent margin of error and 9 percent of those polled were undecided.