Freshman Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), no stranger to incendiary rhetoric, had some choice words Thursday when asked about a new Pew poll showing Americans blame Republicans more than Democrats for the gridlock on Capitol Hill.
“If Joseph Goebbels was around, he’d be very proud of the Democrat Party, because they have an incredible propaganda machine,” West told reporters during House votes Thursday afternoon. “Let’s be honest, you know, some of the people in the media are complicit with this and enabling them to get that type of message out.”
Thursday’s Pew poll showed that 40 percent of Americans who believe the 112th Congress has accomplished less than other congresses blame Republicans for the deadlock on Capitol Hill. Fifty-three percent of those surveyed said that they believed Republicans held “more extreme” policy positions than Democrats, and respondents viewed Democrats as more willing than Republicans to work with the other side.
Asked whether he was concerned about those results, West responded, “I’m not concerned about it, because I know what I’m doing in my lane.”
“But let’s be very honest,” he added. “You have the president, who has an incredible megaphone and a platform, and he has people all across this country believing that the only people on Capitol Hill are House Republicans. He’s not talking anything about his controlled Senate. So, it’s a great propaganda machine. And I have to give him kudos for being able to leverage that.”
Earlier Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) had a different interpretation of the poll results: “Welcome to divided government.”
“The American people provided a Republican House, a Democrat Senate, a Democrat in the White House,” Boehner said at his weekly news conference. “As a result, we’ve got to work overtime at trying to find common ground to do what the American people sent us here to do. It’s not easy. It’s not pretty. But it’s the process our founders gave us. And my job is to help make it work.”
Several reporters asked West whether he was comparing Democrats to Nazis. The Florida Republican defended his statement and criticized the media for trying to “spin” his remarks.
“Once again, you guys will take whatever I say, and you will spin it to try to demonize me and demagogue me,” West said. “What I’m talking about is a person that was the minister of propaganda, and I’m talking about propaganda. I’ll be prepared to wake up tomorrow and you guys make up some crazy story; whatever.”
Did congressional Republicans bear any responsibility for the public’s views of their party? one reporter asked.
Responded West: “I think we need to do a better job of being messengers.”