WASHINGTON, April 11 (UPI) -- U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., says as many as 81 Democrats in Congress are members of the Communist Party.
West's comments came during a town hall event late Tuesday in Jensen Beach, Fla., but he has since refused to back down, despite hoots from Democrats, The Washington Post reported.
Some in the crowd jeered when a questioner asked West about Marxists in "the American Legislature," but West said, "No, it's a good question. I believe there is about 78 to 81 members of the Democratic Party that are members of the Communist Party."
A spokeswoman in West's congressional office said he was referring to the 76 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the Post said.
"The Communist Party has publicly referred to the Progressive Caucus as its allies," spokeswoman Angela Melvin said. "These individuals certainly aren't proponents of free markets or individual economic freedom."
West's campaign manager Tim Edson also pointed out some congressional Democrats actually have traveled to China and Communist Cuba. The Post pointed out that Republicans have done so as well.
Tuesday night, West said President Obama would never appear on a platform with him, "'Cause he was too scared," Politico reported.
Meanwhile, a real Communist called West "absurd."
"I just think it's an absurd way to cast a shadow over his colleagues. It's kind of a sad ploy," Libero Della Piana, a vice-chairman of the national Communist Party, told Politico. "It's just guilt by association taken to an extreme."