By Michael Warren at The Weekly Standard
For retired Army Lt. Col. Allen West, Republican candidate for Congress in Florida’s 22nd District, one word seems to sum up his campaign, his career, his life: “leadership.”
“We’ve got to rediscover what leadership is in this country,” West says during an interview in Washington. “In the last 2008 election cycle, we saw American Idol play on a grand scheme. And unfortunately, we believed that giving a good teleprompter speech meant leadership.”
It may sound like typical boilerplate rhetoric, but for West, leadership is a culture and a lifestyle he knows well. His father served in World War II, his older brother in Vietnam. Both were Marines, but West chose the Army, serving for 22 years and rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel. His nephew is an Army captain, serving stateside after two tours overseas. “I’m not from a political family,” West says. “I’m from a family of service.”
And it’s service to his country that West says drives him to run for public office. West is once again challenging Democrat Ron Klein, who in 2006 defeated 13-term representative Clay Shaw. In 2008, the then-unknown West unsuccessfully ran against Klein with little financial support from the NRCC. “We raised $583,000 all on our own and ended up with 45.3 percent,” he says. So what has changed between 2008 and 2010 that makes West confident enough to seek a rematch?
“It’s time,” he says, explaining there wasn’t enough of it for him in the last election. In 2008, a late presidential primary in Florida meant voters tuned into his congressional race by only March or April of that year. But for 2010, West has had a bit more time to get his name and message out. A video of his rousing speech in Fort Lauderdale in October 2009 went viral and now boasts over 2 million views.
[ Here’s my Allen West page… – JS ]