Jewish Democratic Congressman Ron Klein is criticizing Republican challenger Allen West for his references to the Gestapo.
At an event Thursday, West said "I know here today we have a representative from the Florida Democratic party and he is here to film me and his whole purpose of filming me is to take what I say and allow other people to distort it so they can misrepresent me. You know if we allow those Gestapo-type intimidation tactics to prevail in the United States of America what happens to our liberties, what happens to our freedoms?"
It's standard procedure on the campaign trail for the opposing side to video or photograph the opponent to be used for fodder for attack ads later. But calling out these "trackers" as West calls them has been a frequent part of some of his events. The person taping the event works for the Florida Democratic Party, according to Klein campaign spokeswoman Sarah Rothschild, and is the grandson of Holocaust survivors.
In a radio interview Wednesday, West made a reference to "Gestapo like intimidation tactics that we see coming from Nancy Pelosi and also from the president as well," Klein's campaign said.
Klein said in a press release that West "has shown reckless disregard and appalling disrepsect to Holocaust victims and survivors."
"We are not apologizing for that,'' responded West's campaign manager Josh Grodin, who said the videotaped event was at an event attended by clergy including rabbis. "What the Florida Democratic Party is doing is they are just using intimidation tactics. They are following West around everywhere."
We asked Grodin isn't West's campaign afraid he'll turn off Jewish voters by using the Gestapo term?
"Our Jewish supporters know where Allen West stands on Israel and they know exactly what he means by this," said Grodin, who is Jewish. Grodin grandfather liberated a concentration camp.
Expect both sides to go after the Jewish vote in the Broward-Palm Beach district -- both have already reached out to Jewish leaders and voters. Klein's campaign estimates that about 10 percent of the district's population is Jewish. The Jewish Data Bank's most recent number from 2006 put it at 75,000 -- or about 16 percent.