Allen West, a black Republican candidate for Congress running against incumbent Democrat Ron Klein, has been called a radical and an extremist but he showed a more moderate side in most of his speech about education at a voters' forum at the Fort Lauderdale Christian School Thursday night.
West, a retired lieutenant Army colonel who spent a year teaching at Deerfield Beach High School, called for more vocational education, internships, less teaching to the test, empowering teachers and encouraging community involvement in the schools. He has called for the end of the U.S. Department of Education -- a department he says has grown too much.
After he spoke about education, the mostly white crowd of more than 100 West supporters asked questions on a variety of topics. Here are a few quotes from West from the forum:
On West being called a radical:
"Once upon a time the British called the Founding Fathers radical," he said. "Today we call them Patriots."
On West's critics:
"There are spies out there. People have these folks called trackers. I invite them to come right down here up front. If you are going to publish something on a blog at least have the courage to look me in the eye."
On illegal immigration:
"Illegal immigration can have negative effects on our education system."
"We've got to transfer wealth out of Washington D.C. and back to each and every one of you," he said.
"We cannot have a moratorium on oil drilling. ... We can't put these people in Louisiana out of work."
"I don't see myself as African-American, black American, I see myself as American," he said. "I'm very proud of the heritage of my parents, I am very proud of the heritage of my people. But when you stick a knife in me I bleed red, white and blue. ... Institutional racism in the U.S. is over."
"It's not about nation building. It's about being focused on the enemy. ... We'e got to kill the enemy. There is nothing wrong with saying that."