SCHAUMBURG - Conservative pundit former Congressman Allen West was in Schaumburg Thursday to raise funds for Republican challenger Larry Kaifesh and Democrat Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth's (8-IL) camp noticed it. She's using his visit to raise funds for herself.
"Former Tea Party Congressman Allen West is back," an email to supporters said Thursday afternoon. "He’s in Illinois today, hosting a big VIP fundraiser for my opponent—one of just 14 'hand-picked' candidates who West is endorsing to bring their shared “conservative values” back to Congress."
Duckworth says she's set a goal of raising $5,000 by the end of August to help counter some of what Allen West is raising for her opponent.
During an exclusive interview with Colonel West and Kaifesh, Kaifesh told Illinois Review Thursday afternoon that he hopes to raise substantial funds at an event with the Schaumburg GOP later tonight, but that his campaign is about getting the GOP base to the polls, and appealing to the 8th District independents.
"People that I talk to ask me who I'm running against, and when I tell them, they say, 'I'm not voting for her, she's done nothing to change things," Kaifesh said. "And they're also unhappy about how she's taken advantage of their sympathy and appreciation for her military duty and injury. They say they feel used."
While the district is pretty evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, independents are the ones that will determine who is elected in November, Kaifesh said. "The independents I talk to are very unhappy with Ms. Duckworth."
And about the money? While that's important, it's not everything, Colonel Allen West told Illinois Review.
"The Republican in Virginia beat the Majority Leader [Eric Cantor] a few months ago, even though he was outspent six to one," West said. "It's not so much about the amount of money you have to spend, it's about the message you're running on. Larry's got the right message for America and we need him in Congress."
West said he's endorsing Kaifesh as one of the 14 military conservative minority veterans through his Guardian Fund political action committee, the only race he's getting involved in in Illinois. Even though both Duckworth and Kaifesh are veterans, West said he had no problem making a pick between the two.
"It's very simple," West said. "We honor the service that people do in uniform. When you're talking about a congressional representative, it's about the oath you take to the people, to the Constitution, not to a political party.
"In fact if you look at the record of Representative Tammy Duckworth. Where is she standing up as far as our national security? The cuts to the Army that she and I served in has now gone back to a 1940s pre-conscription level, the Marine Corps in going to lose nine infantry battalions, the Navy will be at 1917 levels, the Air Force has the smallest and oldest air fleet that they've had," West said.
He pointed to problems he sees with Duckworth's lack of involvement in protecting American military veterans - she's been quiet when veterans have suffered mistreatment in their health care facilities.
"You look at what's going on with our veterans - Tammy Duckworth worked in our veteran's administration. With a lot of these scandals going on, where's her voice, where does she stand on that?" West said. "And there are some issues about what she did while she headed the VA here in Illinois - with some whistleblowers and the prosecution thereof."
Veterans should defend one another and most of all, the U.S. Constitution - wherever they continue service after being in the military, West said.
"That's what we're looking at - we need someone that understands that the oath they took as a commissioned officer does not have a statute of limitations. We want to make sure that they go ahead to honor their oath with distinction - not to a political party, but to the Constitution," West said.
"That's why we're supporting Larry."
More from Thursday's interview with Colonel West and Larry Kaifesh to come ...