Allen West Shows a Softer Side at CPAC

by David Drucker

Source: The Washington Examiner

A mild-mannered Allen West mingled with conservative activists Friday, posing for pictures and flashing a smile that was in short supply during his two years in Congress.

The Tea Party firebrand appeared as popular as ever as he walked the halls of the Conservative Political Action Conference, though there appeared something decidedly less incendiary about the politician who was once a fixture on cable television news.

Living in Dallas since Christmas, the former Florida congressman and military veteran said he has no plans to be politically active in the 2016 contest, his only goal being to serve as a resource for all of the Republican presidential candidates in his role as president and CEO of the National Center for Policy Analysis.

"I want to make sure we have the right solutions for this country moving forward," West told the Washington Examiner during a brief interview. "We just want to be a resource to help these guys come up with the right answers for how we get this economy, and health care, energy and also our national security turned around."

West, a retired Army lieutenant colonel, said he has no plans to endorse a candidate in the Republican presidential primary, although he did not rule backing someone or getting more involved in the campaign down the line. But he volunteered that the rise of the Islamic State should prompt the Republican Party to nominate someone capable of meeting the unique national security threats that face the U.S. in the years ahead.

"This is a very fluid situation that we're in. We don't know how it's going to change. Look at what happened in one year with ISIS — 3,000 fighters, and now they're 50,000 to 60,000. And they're in 11 to 12 different countries, so we don't really know what type of person that we need to have out there as our Commander in Chief, because that's the most important title of the president."

West, who served in Operation Desert Storm and commanded an artillery battalion in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, said the most important task for the next president is building a "fiscally responsible" military for the 21st century battlefield that is capable of combating asymmetrical, terrorist threats. West said no options should be taken off the table in the war against the Islamic State, including the deployment of U.S. ground troops.

"We need to look at how we develop a power-projection military that is not going around playing whack-a-mole but can keep constant pressure on these enemy forces," West said.