Vermont Republicans can't seem to get enough of national GOP figures with a propensity to drop — um, there's no other way to say this — Nazi references on a fairly regular basis.
First came Maine Gov. Paul LePage, who touched down in Vermont two weeks ago to bring in the dough for Republican gubernatorial candidate Randy Brock. During his time in the Green Mountain State, the Maine gov managed to reignite and escalate a national uproar over comments he made comparing the IRS to the Gestapo.
Next up? Florida Congressman Allen West, a rising star in the national Republican scene with a reputation for politically incorrect zingers. The Vermont Republican Party on Friday announced in an email that West will host a fundraiser for his campaign August 5 at Waterbury's Country Club of Vermont. Vermont GOP chairman Jack Lindley said that while his party is helping to spread the word about the event, it's being hosted by "a conglomeration of Tea Party activists and people who are concerned about the direction of the world."
Not familiar with Rep. West? Here's a quick highlight reel of some of his more controversial utterances:
- "Well, you know what, it is about time that we end this Gestapo-like intimidation tactics that we see coming from Nancy Pelosi and also from the president as well," West told Sirius/XM radio in August 2010.
- "If Joseph Goebbels was around, he'd be very proud of the Democrat Party, because they have an incredible propaganda machine," West told reporters in the U.S. Capitol in December 2011, according to Politico.
- "You have this 21st century plantation that has been out there where the Democrat Party has forever taken the black vote for granted. And you have established certain black leaders who are nothing more than the overseers of that plantation, and now the people on that plantation are upset because they've been disregarded, disrespected and their concerns are not cared about," he told Fox News in August 2011. "So I'm here as the modern-day Harriet Tubman to kinda lead people on the underground railroad away from that plantation and to a sense of sensibility."
- In an e-mail to Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who also chairs the Democratic National Committee, West wrote in July 2011, "You are the most vile, unprofessional and despicable member of the US House of Representatives. If you have something to say to me, stop being a coward and say it to my face, otherwise shut the heck up," according to the Palm Beach Post. "You have proven repeatedly that you are not a Lady, therefore, shall not be afforded due respect from me!"
- And, lastly, West said during an April town hall meeting that there are "78 to 81 [U.S. House] members of the Democrat party that are members of the communist party."
If you can't get enough of this stuff, be sure to check out "What West Said," a website set up by West's Democratic opponent, Patrick Murphy.
So who exactly is bringing West to town? The invitation comes from a group called "Grass Roots Families of Vermont" and lists as hosts Diane Tardif, Pat and Roger Crocker, Ellie and Glenn Martin, Linda Kirker, Sue and Doug Santerre, and Lenore Broughton.
A phone number listed on the invite belongs to True North Reports, the right-wing propaganda machine that bills itself as a media organization. A phone message left at the number was returned by Broughton — a major donor to such GOP candidates as Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin and West — who referred Seven Days to True North Reports' online editor Robert Maynard. He did not immediately respond to a phone call for comment.
As for Lindley, he calls West, "one of the many up and coming Republican leaders, there's no question about it. He's part of the big Republican tent."
Does he agree with West's more controversial remarks?
"Well, you know, I think he's speaking his mind. I wouldn't necessarily agree with all of them, but he certainly has a point of view of how he sees the world," Lindley says, adding that he would not equate Democrats with the Gestapo.
Vermont Dems seem none too pleased with West's coming trip to Vermont.
"We feel this is another example of the Vermont Republican Party embracing the national Republican agenda, which doesn't even reflect most Vermont Republicans," says party spokeswoman Ari Wengroff. "We're curious to hear the Vermont Republican Party's explanation for why they're embracing Allen West's extremist agenda."