(CNN) – Reince Priebus, the Republican National Committee chairman, said in a Tuesday interview that he would not abandon GOP Rep. Allen West, who said on Sunday that President Barack Obama wanted Americans to be "slaves."
"He does not want you to have the self-esteem of getting up and earning and having that title of American. He'd rather you be his slave," the Florida congressman said of Obama at a rally in Port St. Lucie, according to CNN affiliate WPTV.
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Priebus called West "one of the most dynamic new Republican stars in our party," and said on CNN's "The Situation Room" that he was more embarrassed by Obama's handling of the economy than the comment.
"I'm not the police officer of the Republican Party," Priebus said. "Allen can say what Allen wants to say."
West has a history of controversial and attention-grabbing remarks.
In April, he told constituents at a town hall-style meeting that he believes "there's about 78 to 81 members of the Democratic Party that are members of the Communist Party."
Last summer, he drew headlines for writing an email to fellow Floridian Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Democrat, calling her the "most vile, unprofessional, and despicable member" of the House.
On Tuesday, Priebus defended the congressman in the context of the "slave" and "communist" comments.
"Allen West is an important member of congress from south Florida. I'm not going to throw Allen West in a ditch," Priebus said. "I think what's most important in this debate is where we are as a country, whether the very idea of America is going to continue and what Barack Obama's done about it."
The RNC chair also responded to criticism of Mitt Romney's top advisers by News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch and former General Electric CEO Jack Welch. Murdoch tweeted of Romney, "Tough O[bama] Chicago pros will be hard to beat unless he drops old friends from team and hires some real pros," and Welch followed several days later, saying he hoped "Romney is listening to Murdoch advice [on] campaign staff."
Priebus did not chastise the high-profile Republicans, but argued that Romney's campaign manager would someday be known among the great political minds driving recent campaigns.
"They have their opinion. That's fine. They're respected people," he said, adding that Romney campaign manager Matt Rhodes is in the category of "political pros."
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