July 3rd, 2012
07:02 PM ET
10 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. Randy, San Francisco

    Shame on the GOP/Tea Party leadership's failure to denounce uncivil comments made by Rep Allen West.

    July 3, 2012 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  2. Vote the Tea Party OUT in 2012

    Allen West surely knows that his seat is not a lock and to keep his right wing base on his side saying anything negative about Obama no matter how stupid it may be is what they want to hear. And he also knows it works in his favor being a Black man saying it. Priebus is a wimp so he'll allow his side to say ANYTHING about Obama and stand by saying nothing. So I am not surprised at his statements. Checkout his statements on PolitcalFacts and just see how many of them are "pants on fire" ones.

    July 3, 2012 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  3. Ancient Texan

    Allen West calls them as he sees them. More Power to him, as he knows exactly what the present administration is trying to do.

    July 3, 2012 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  4. Larry L

    The Republicans of the House represent everything that has driven common sense people away from the Republican Party. These Tea party radicals now admire the crass and disrespectful speech of the low-class, bigoted and under-educated masses of the red states. They give a bad name to "white-trash".

    July 3, 2012 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  5. Lenwood May

    Why do you all waste time talking about allan west and talking to Reese'scup pribo. I am glad they are Repubs, everytime they speak Mr. Obama re-election looks better and better. allan west (not capitalize) is a boozo and if it was not for reese'scup, he would be the biggest dumbo.

    July 3, 2012 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  6. AK-steve

    Absolutely disgusting. The GOP crucified the Dems when a Dem said something about a housewife not having business experience. But when a GOPer says that Obama wants Americans to be "slaves"??? Well, that's just semantics.

    The GOP disgust me. They are vile and despicable human beings. The poop I scrap off my shoe has more integrity then a Republican. Oh, sorry... please forgive me "semantics".

    July 3, 2012 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  7. ThinkAgain

    I just can't help but think that Allen West suffers from some mental illness. I'm not being facetious; he really has said some absolutely nutty things!

    July 3, 2012 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  8. Chris Willett, Buffalo NY

    By the standards of the current Tea Party Republicans, Eisenhower and Reagan would be condemned as evil socialists. We're talking about a party that's really gone off a cliff.

    July 3, 2012 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  9. charles

    Preibus: Crooked as a dog's hind leg.

    July 3, 2012 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  10. lgny

    Or in plain English...

    We'll let our leaders day anything that degrades the other side.

    July 3, 2012 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  11. Hap

    Nobody in that party is responsible for anything, good or bad, right or wrong, they don't do anything much at all except cry and moan about the President. This guy is no better than the birthers, muslim, commie kooks.The people responsible for what the moron from Florida says are the idiots who voted for him, that can and should be fixed. They may like the press he gets, bad press is better than no press, I guess.

    July 3, 2012 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  12. Martha in CF

    That is so far from the truth about Obama wants us to be slaves!!!!! Doesn't anyone in the redumblican party have anything intelligent to say? The redumblican party have become only hateful and spiteful. Allen West needs to be voted out of office....He has done nothing in Congress but make vile accusations about fellow Congressman/woman....The same holds true for Rince Priebus-rnc prbs.....

    July 3, 2012 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  13. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    He needs to at least make members of the party aware of how problematic stupid statements like that are. We are not going to be slaves. If that were the case, who would be owning us?

    July 3, 2012 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |

    I sure would love to call him something Nasty. Foolger

    July 3, 2012 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  15. Dennis1020

    But, of course, Priebus expects his counterpart with the DNC to police her membership. As for Allen West, I can only conclude that he landed on his head during some parachute jump while he was in the Army.

    July 3, 2012 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |

    Priebus, when you come out the closet your job will be over and this same dynamic fool, as you called him, will say some wild things about you; just remember there will be no one to call. Romney will not answer his phone when he see its you calling. he'll be hoping you "self-deport" from the party. Fox news will get back to you after their exclusive designed to keep anyone from thinking Romney been in your bed. The tickparty will scratch snift and scream for your resignation. who you gonna call?

    July 3, 2012 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  17. J.V.Hodgson

    The hypocryt cannot even answer the question Wolf raised he changes the subject entirely. West is a star in the Republican firmament. If thats true I have no time for anyone in that party who supports the two things Wolf questioned Priebus on.
    Nor would I vote a party that cannot reject such lies and nonsesnse.

    July 4, 2012 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  18. enuff

    Now Romney's campaign manager is going to be recognized as a great politicall mind? He might go down as having the most inconsistent message for his candidate.

    July 4, 2012 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  19. Unbelievable

    Is Obama the democrat police? How ironic. The GOP wants Obama to reprimand any vile statement from a democrat but GOP chairman wont reprimand vile things said by a republican because he's not a GOP sleep. The GOP said Obama can't take credit for the capture and murder of Osama bin Ladin because it was the navy seals that captured and killed him. Well, my question is, did Osama Bin Laden personally blow up the world trade center(WTC)? the evil osama bin laden was responsible for authorizing 9/11 and Obama deserve all the credit for authorizing the capture and killing of the that evil man osama bin laden.

    July 4, 2012 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
  20. Sirned

    Republcans have crossed over the line of extremism to bat crazy......Just saying

    July 4, 2012 01:12 am at 1:12 am |
  21. John in Brooklyn

    He may not be the GOP, but my parents always taught me that you are judged by the company that you keep. Shame on the GOP for condoning this kind of behavior. We have seen such ugly, devisive, and anger-filled speech coming from the GOP for the past four years, I actually find myself embarrassed that they actually represent the majority of ANY part of the proud USA.

    July 4, 2012 01:19 am at 1:19 am |
  22. Melo-D

    Oh so I guess Prince Rebus thinks the GOP members can just say what they want, no matter how untrue. How sweet! So the next time a democrat says something that the GOP doesn't like I don't want to hear a peep from Rebus.

    July 4, 2012 01:31 am at 1:31 am |
  23. BeverlyNC

    These Republicans seem to be determined to turn the People against them while arrogantly expecting us to vote for them. West has claimed Democrats in Congress are "known communists". The only entity trying to "enslave" us are the corporations Republicans have sold their soul to for cash. Rep. Walsh has attacked his Democratic opponent Colonel Tammy Duckworth who lost her legs while flying a Blackhawk helicopter mission in Iraq for talking about her military service. Attacking a 20 year veteran is not usually a sign of character for a candidate but Walsh is known for crossing the line on decency as much as West does. Let's hope the American People stand up and say "Enough" of these Republicans who have betrayed us on jobs, economic recovery, veteran healthcare, education, housing help, bank regulation to protect consumers, the environment, and other critical needs while fighting to the death to protect billions of taxpayer dollars going to subsidies for oil companies, the corn and sugar industry, and lower taxes for those like Romney who already pay less than the average worker. It's time to send these Republican extremists home to face reality and learn some humanity and respect for the People they were supposed to be serving but abandoned for a game of obstruction of all legislation.

    July 4, 2012 01:36 am at 1:36 am |
  24. Thomas

    RNC chairman: I'm not the GOP police.

    He's absolutely right . Reince Priebus, the Republican National Committee chairman is more like a yes man rodent who wishes he was Bobby Darin.

    July 4, 2012 01:40 am at 1:40 am |
  25. dms7763

    Allen West makes statements that equal the people that believe the Holocaust didn't happen. I guess Renee Preibus believes that Allen West can say what he wants and it is his right to say the Holocaust didn't happen. That his opionon, but my opionon is that he should kicked out of the Republican Party to suggest that the Holocaust did not happen. Good Riddance and Long Live the Republican Party!!!!

    July 4, 2012 01:58 am at 1:58 am |
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