Allen West, the fast-talking former congressman and tea-party hero, isn’t ruling out a presidential bid come 2016.
“No one should ever sit around and say, ‘I want to be president,’” the retired lieutenant colonel tells me. “That’s a position that somebody needs to be called to serve.”
West, who spent 22 years in the U.S. Army and one term in Congress before losing his bid for reelection in 2012, says he will always be ready to serve his country. “You have to have yourself in a position to be available for your country and to be obedient to God’s will,” he says.
With New Jersey governor Chris Christie having been knocked from his putative status as front-runner after it was revealed his aides conspired to shut down lanes on the George Washington Bridge, West would join a wide-open Republican field that is likely to include Wisconsin governor Scott Walker and senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz. Candidates from previous years, including former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, Texas governor Rick Perry, and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, have also signaled that they are mulling their options.
Right now, West’s attention is focused squarely on the upcoming midterm elections. “If we can’t be successful out of 2014 to influence a conservative legislative agenda, I don’t think 2016 matters,” he says. “If we are successful, then we build upon that success, and we’ll see how I can be a part of that success.”
He is using his considerable fundraising abilities to boost Republican candidates like Utah’s Mia Love, Maryland’s Dan Bongino, and Arkansas’s Tom Cotton. His political-action committee, the Allen West Guardian Fund, is dedicated to supporting conservative minority and military-veteran candidates.
When we spoke on Tuesday, West was off to host a telephone town hall with Minnesota’s John Kline, a five-term congressman and former Marine facing challenges from both the right and the left. He is optimistic, he says, about the GOP’s ability to hold a majority in the House and to retake the Senate, “as long as we don’t snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.”
West, who became a Fox News contributor last May and boasts over 900,000 fans on Facebook, stepped down as director of programming for Pajamas Media’s Next Generation TV last fall in order to take a more active role in politics.
— Eliana Johnson is media editor of National Review Online.