July 3rd, 2012
07:02 PM ET
11 years ago

RNC chairman: I'm not the GOP police

(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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Filed under: 2012 • Allen West • Reince Priebus • RNC • TV-The Situation Room
soundoff (59 Responses)
  1. Pander Bear

    "I'm not the police officer of the Republican Party," Priebus said.

    No you are a gutless and classless wonder. If a sitting Democratic Congressperson said Romney wanted people to be slaves, Priebus would have demanded an apology and sent out a fundraising letter to capitalize on the controversy.

    July 4, 2012 02:20 am at 2:20 am |
  2. Orwell sees it, again & again

    Of course the RNC will support their rabid fascist attack dog, he slavishly represents Republican world view.

    July 4, 2012 02:23 am at 2:23 am |
  3. Marry

    This is not the first time Allen West has made outrageous, hateful comments laced heavily with false statements. To do this seems to be the most important requirement to become "one of the most dynamic new Republican stars in our party." Bashing the President with the most absurd accusations has become standard with Reince Priebus and most of the GOP!
    They have NOTHING to offer but criticizing the people that work to make the country a better place to live. What a shameful group the GOP has become! Aside policies, to vote for that type of behavior would attest a bad character to anybody condoning this and to vote for it!

    July 4, 2012 02:25 am at 2:25 am |
  4. TM

    West is continuing a pattern of bad behavior. He left the Army after disgracing his command, and now he disgraces his office with repeated lies.

    July 4, 2012 02:45 am at 2:45 am |
  5. frag

    The Republicans use West as a slave. He makes blacks look extreme and vulgar. If he was white, they would police him.

    July 4, 2012 04:31 am at 4:31 am |
  6. Craig M

    The RNC has not had effective leadership in years not has the leadership of the GOP Senate been effective in years and John Boehner is a joke.....for lifelong Republicans like myself (63 years old) we are stranded in a never-never land of wasted opportunity and calamity among the so-called GOP leadership in this country. Many good young Congresspeople and Senators but the old guard is flat and nothing but Washington D.C. Country Club RINO's!!!

    July 4, 2012 05:36 am at 5:36 am |
  7. Cathy

    Priebus is a goof ball; West is a nut and alexithymic Mitt will be a loser on Nov 6.

    July 4, 2012 05:51 am at 5:51 am |
  8. Bob

    Priebus is also not the GOP BRAIN, either. GOP made a big mistake to get rid of Michael Steele for this goof ball.

    July 4, 2012 06:10 am at 6:10 am |
  9. James Klimaski

    You may be judged by the company you keep.

    July 4, 2012 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
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