Rep. Ron Klein (D) "questioned the judgment" of '08 nominee Allen West (R) at a 10/18 debate for participating in a campaign event "where he rubbed elbows with members of the Outlaw Motorcycle Club." The Club has been labeled a criminal organization by law enforcement. West: "There were gentleman there from another group (at the event). That doesn't mean I am associated with that group" (Lantigua, Palm Beach Post, 10/18).
West: "I don't smoke. I don't drink. I don't party. I am not associated with a criminal gang. I have never ridden with a criminal gang" (Man, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 10/18). Afterwards, West pointed out that, as an African-American, he can't join the Outlaws. West, joking after the debate: "I'm going to have to bleach myself like Michael Jackson to get into the Outlaws."
Also during the debate, he pointed out that Klein had campaigned recently with Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL 23), an "impeached federal judge." He also referred to Klein campaigning recently with Rep. John Lewis (D-GA 05). West, referring to recent ethics scandals: "We know some of the problems we have had in the Congressional Black Caucus." He did not specifically accuse him of any crime. Klein, after the debate: "For him to insult John Lewis is beyond the pale" (Palm Beach Post, 10/18).
Thank A Vet?
NBC 6 Miami's Steve Litz reports a Klein video tracker was trying to videotape West at a recent veterans rally at a public park, but was "verbally harassed" by West supporters. In the video (see here), they force him to get back into his car.
A West spokesperson: "I saw a kid who was asked to leave. These are Vietnam veterans, they are not thugs. They were attending a private Allen West function to honor American veterans."
FL Dem officials say they took the videographer off the trail, "fearing for his safety" (10/18).