DEERFIELD BEACH (CBS4) – South Florida supporters of Congressman Allen West (R-District 22) gathered at his campaign headquarters in Deerfield Beach Wednesday to celebrate his swearing in and to listen to the radio show of his chief supporter, Joyce Kaufman.
West called into the show on WFTL Wednesday afternoon and told listeners he is thrilled for the opportunity to serve.
“A special moment for me,” he said. “Thank you to all the people that are there at the campaign headquarters and I won’t let you all down.”
Moments later, Kaufman reminded him that he better not let them down.
“We want you to remember that if you want to get reelected, just do the right thing,” she told him.
West replied, “That’s it. That’s all it takes.”
West defeated incumbent Democrat Ron Klein for the Congressional seat that covers northeastern Broward County and eastern Palm Beach County.
West, a darling of the Tea Party and a retired Lt. Colonel of the United States Army.
Kaufman vigorously supported West’s candidacy and told listeners that she will work to keep West humble and focused on the promises that got him elected.
“He’s not there to dictate how we live our lives in congressional district 22 or how Americans live their lives in this great nation,” she said. “He’s there to bring our message to Washington, DC.”
It’s been a strange journey for Kaufman. After his election, West chose Kaufman to be his Chief of Staff. But a comment Kaufman made at a rally for West during the campaign changed everything.
Kaufman said, “And if ballots don’t work, bullets will.”
The clip was replayed by MSNBC after West’s election, when she was named his Chief of Staff.
Kaufman believes it might have caused a woman to email and phone in a threat to her and WFTL, threatening to harm children at Broward County schools. The threat caused an hours-long lockdown at schools in November.
It also led to Kaufman resigning as West’s chief of staff.
She blames the media for casting her in a negative light after the threats came to light.
“They did a disservice to me personally and to the owners and management of my radio station by implying that I had any responsibility in that school lockdown,” she said. “It’s proven not to be true at all and they continue to say that.”
Wednesday Kaufman said she would have loved that opportunity to serve West in Washington.
“I’ll always wonder what it would have been like, but I’m a firm believer that what God has for me, He has for me,” she said.
Kaufman has always maintained that her comments in that clip on MSNBC were taken out of context and that she doesn’t regret anything she said.
“I don’t take back things that I said,” she told CBS 4 News. “I am deliberately controversial. I’m an edgy daytime talk host.”
As for West, he told listeners he has a lot of work to do in Washington but he plans to return home to South Florida and his constituents this weekend.