The co-chairmen of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) said comments made by Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) were reminiscent of McCarthyism.
West said Tuesday he heard a rumor that about 80 Democratic members of Congress were in the Communist Party. West declined to give names.
Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) compared West's comment to Sen. Joe McCarthy (R-Wis.) who in 1950 said he had a list of communists in government.
"Calling fellow Members of Congress ‘communists’ is reminiscent of the days when Joe McCarthy divided Americans with name-calling and modern-day witch hunts that don’t advance policies to benefit people’s lives," the co-chairmen wrote in the statement on Wednesday.
"We hope the people of Florida’s 22nd Congressional District will note that he repeatedly polarizes the American people instead of focusing on their interests," the they added.
The lawmakers called West's comment "childish."
"When people like Rep. West have no ideals or principles, they rely on personal attacks," Ellison and Grijalva continued. "The CPC is proud to stand up for economic equality and civil and human rights for all Americans. Congress is having, and will continue to have, an ongoing debate about job creation, home foreclosures and the issues that concern working families. But we will not engage in base and childish conversations that lower the high level of discourse Americans rightly expect from their representatives."
West's reelection campaign said the remarks were taken out of context.
“One stupid reporter with a local publication misquoted the entire thing, and they all jumped on one press account without verifying,” Tim Edson, West's campaign manager, told The Daily Caller. ”It’s all typical west wing marching orders for their friends in the press.”