WASHINGTON, DC - He has only been in Congress for a month, but already the opposition is mobilizing against him. At the same time, his supporters feverishly come to his defense. He is Congressman Allen West, the controversial Republican Congressman who won the 22nd district seat in November.
West is not a politician in the traditional sense. He rode the anti-incumbent wave in November to victory with a pull-no-punches attitude. Now this outsider is in the ultimate insiders club.
For the first few weeks, it's been a blur of committee meetings while learning how to get around the capitol, West said.
"You find yourself a mile wide and an inch deep. You get up here on Tuesday you have votes but then you have so many things going on," West said.
West has been a popular guest on both radio and television.
"For whatever reason, I'm a high profile freshman and the liberal left is absolutely terrified of me," West said. In fact, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has already launched a radio campaign against him.
"One thing you should never do is let a military man know he gets under your skin, cause I'm gonna exploit that," West said.
The Iraq war veteran won a bruising campaign with the backing of the Tea Party. At one time, the new congressman called our government "tyrannical".
Still, at the state of the union last month, West refused to go along with what he called the "date night" concept of Republicans sitting with Democrats, while others got President Obama to sign their programs, West took notes. He gave the President a "C".
There's been a lot of talk over the past few weeks about President Obama moving toward the center.
"When you start talking about government reform and looking at all these different agencies and efficiencies, that's Tea Party talk," West said. But in the same breath, West goes back to the state of the union and the president's use of the word investment.
"But if that term investment is just a synonym for government spending, then we are going in the wrong direction," he said.
West lives in a basement apartment in Washington, D.C. that he affectionately calls the "bat cave" -- an extension of his "batman" nickname from when he was a kid.
A picture of his mother, nicknamed "Snooks", is displayed prominently in his office. "A man must stand for something, otherwise he'll fall for anything," he said, quoting his mother.
West's favorite item in his office is a painting of George Washington at Valley Forge. Last week, West was back in his home district, greeted by hundreds of cheering supporters at two town hall meetings.
"I have to be out there and be responsive to the people who sent me up here even if that means taking extra precautions in the wake of the shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords," West said.
At the meeting, West addressed past criticisms of Islam by saying he would always defend someone's right to practice a true religion under the first amendment, but would not stop speaking the truth.
West fully supports the recent court ruling against President Obama's health care law despite acknowledging there are a few good things in there. "I can take those things, fit them into 5-10 pages other 2,490 pages that are in the wrong direction," West said.
That's a phrase the new congressman uses a lot, and time will tell if West is helping point the country in the right or wrong direction.
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