This story has been updated.
The sole Republican member of the Congressional Black Caucus says he is considering leaving the group after reports of inflammatory remarks made by another member, Rep. Andre Carson (D-Ind.), about the tea party movement.
Rep. Allen West, a freshman Republican from Florida, said on “Fox and Friends” Wednesday morning that the comments by Carson – who charged at a town hall last week that tea-party supporters would like to see African Americans “hanging from a tree” – had caused him to think twice about belonging to the 43-member group.
“Well, I think that we heard the president talk about some of this over-the-top rhetoric, and we should move away from that,” West said. “But when you start using words such as ‘lynching’ … that’s a very reprehensible word, and I think we should move away from that language.”
“And I have to tell you, one of the things I’m starting to think about is reconsidering my membership in the Congressional Black Caucus, because I don’t think that they’re moving toward the right manner in which we’re going to solve the problems not just in the black community, but all across the United States of America,” he added.
Later Wednesday, West sent a letter to CBC Chairman Emanuel Cleaver calling on the Missouri Democrat “to both condemn these types of hate-filled comments, and to disassociate the Congressional Black Caucus from these types of remarks. Otherwise, I will have to seriously reconsider my membership within the organization.”
A national tea party group issued a statement Wednesday evening calling on Carson to resign.
“Rep. Carson should immediately resign from Congress,” said Martin Meckler and Jenny Beth Martin of the Tea Party Patriots. “He is clearly not fit to serve. This type of disgusting, hateful rhetoric has no place in our political discourse. At a minimum, he should be removed from leadership in the Congressional Black Caucus, and censured by his colleagues. If they refuse to take these actions, they are sending a clear statement to the American public that it is acceptable for ‘leaders’ in Congress to wantonly accuse their fellow members and the American public of desiring murder.”
West himself has drawn headlines for using incendiary language as recently as last month, when he sent a message to Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz calling the Florida Democrat “vile” and “despicable” and stating that she should “shut the heck up.” West defended the message, which he also copied to congressional leadership.
And in an appearance on “The O’Reilly Factor” two weeks ago, West invoked slavery-era imagery, likening himself to “a modern-day Harriet Tubman” and calling the Democratic Party “a 21st Century plantation.”
West in January became the first Republican in 14 years to join the CBC. The group’s last Republican member, former Rep. Gary Franks (Conn.), left Congress in 1997. Rep. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), who with West is one of two black Republicans in the House, declined to join the group, saying in a statement last year that “while I recognize the efforts of the CBC and appreciate their invitation for me to caucus with them, I will not be joining at this time. My campaign was never about race.”