Tea-party-backed Florida Rep. Allen West, regarded as among the most outspoken members of the giant freshman GOP congressional class, has been given the coveted closing address assignment Saturday at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference.
“Congressman West epitomizes the core conservative values CPAC attendees treasure: a basic belief in human freedom, traditional values, and a love of country based on an appreciation of the nation’s founding documents,” American Conservative Union Chairman David A. Keene said in a statement. “We at CPAC watched with excitement last year as one our own, Congressman West, won one of the most important congressional races in the country and conveyed his conservative beliefs to Washington.”
Mr. West, a veteran of the Iraq War and a leading tea party supporter, already has displayed a talent for attracting attention and gaining support among conservative activists. In defeating Democratic Rep. Ron Klein in November, Mr. West became the first black Republican congressman from Florida since 1876 and is one of just two blacks in the House Republican caucus.
He had barely secured election to the House in the 2010 midterm elections when he chided Rep. Eric Cantor, who was House majority leader-designate at the time. In a letter to Mr. Cantor, Virginia Republican, Mr. West complained that the GOP leadership had scheduled only 10 days in session for January of this year.
“We have to show the American people we are going to be different than years past,” Mr. West said in his letter. “We are there for one reason and one reason only, to work for the constituents of the districts we are so privileged to represent. I hope that if it becomes clear that we are not meeting the promise we made to the American people, leadership will modify the schedule in order for us to accomplish the important task we have before us.”
He since has called on his party in Congress to get behind major across-the-board government spending cuts, including Social Security and Medicare, calling the current growth of government spending “off the chart.”
Mr. West, a retired Army lieutenant colonel, also has told his fellow lawmakers that budgetary smoke and mirrors were yesterday’s tactics.
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Chief political writer Ralph Z. Hallow served on the Chicago Tribune, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Washington Times editorial boards, was Ford Foundation Fellow in Urban Journalism at Northwestern University, resident at Columbia University Editorial-Page Editors Seminar and has filed from Berlin, Bonn, London, Paris, Geneva, Vienna, Amman, Beirut, Cairo, Damascus, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Belgrade, Bucharest, Panama and Guatemala.
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