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'You've got to make the fellow scared to come out of his house'

Last night in Jupiter, Fla., GOP congressional candidate Allen West told "tea party" activists that they needed to do more to get accountability from Rep. Ron Klein (D-Fla.).

"Let me tell you what you've got to do," said West, a retired lieutenant colonel. "You've got to make the fellow scared to come out of his house. That's the only way that you're going to win. That's the only way you're going to get these people's attention."

Local Democrats, who obtained a video of the speech, are piling on West for the remarks -- one in a string of combative statements he's made about Democrats. "West and his mentor Sarah Palin are shamefully stoking violent language and symbolism that threatens the safety of our leaders and public officials," Broward County Democratic Chair Mitch Ceasar said in a statement. (Palin has endorsed West.) "The hard working people of South Florida know that inciting people with extreme and violent language sometimes leads to far more violent and monstrous acts."

When I reached West, he called out Democrats for "cutting and pasting and taking out of context." He was referring, he said, to the way Klein failed to respond to his constituents, who'd been unable to meet him in his office or in town halls to talk about the health-care bill. He wasn't encouraging tea partiers to chase Klein down.

"If the Democrats want to play this game, that's fine," West said. "If you look at the Code Pink folks, the SEIU, the Acorn crew -- if you look at the intimidation tactics of the New Black Panther Party, I think you'll see that the Democrats have more to answer for than the tea parties. I have not seen any tea party people carrying nightsticks outside of polling places."

West saw the video as proof that liberals were "very afraid" of his campaign. (Besides the Palin endorsement, he's scored "Young Guns" status with the National Republican Congressional Committee.) "I welcome their attacks," he said. "They're just doing the typical character assassination job. I've been shot at. I've jumped out of planes in the dead of night. They don't scare me."

By David Weigel  |  April 6, 2010; 4:36 PM ET
Categories:  2010 Election , Congress , NRCC , Tea Party  
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