Rep. Allen West said Thursday the top Nazi propaganda minister would "be very proud" of the Democrats because of their skill in convincing the American people that the only people to blame for the problems in Washington are the Republicans.
"If Joseph Goebbels was around, he’d be very proud of the Democrat Party, because they have an incredible propaganda machine," the Florida Republican told reporters in the Capitol, Politico reported.
“You have the president, who has an incredible megaphone and a platform, and he has people all across this country believing that the only people on Capitol Hill are House Republicans. He’s not talking anything about his controlled Senate. So, it’s a great propaganda machine. And I have to give him kudos for being able to leverage that,” he said.
West also accused some in the media of "enabling" the Democrats to do so.
"Let's be honest, you know, some of the people in the media are complicit in this, in enabling them to get that type of message out," he said.
West, whose South Florida district is heavily Jewish, predicted his words would be used to "demonize" or "demagogue" him and insisted he was only making the comparison to propaganda, not comparing the Democratic Party to Naziism as a whole.
"I'm talking about propaganda, OK," he said. "Don't start taking my words and twisting it around. I'm talking about propaganda. And I think that's a very important thing. When you tell me that everyone thinks that the only people on Capitol Hill are House Republicans, it's because that's what's being portrayed, is that there's nobody else up here."
"Once again, you guys will take whatever I say and you will spin it to try to demonize me or demagogue me,” West added. “What I'm talking about is a person that was the minister of propaganda. And I'm talking about propaganda. So please. I'll be prepared to wake up tomorrow and you guys make up some crazy story. Whatever."
Reaction to West's comments poured in Thursday, with the National Jewish Democratic Council releasing a statement condemning him for "invoking the Holocaust to make a political point." The organization called on West to immediately apologize to the Jewish community and "the Americans who fought valiantly to defeat the Nazis."
"Shame on him," tweeted Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. "Rep West needs to apologize now for insulting the memories of the millions who lost their lives during the Holocaust."
Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) sent West a personal handwritten note Thursday to say he was disappointed in the remarks, Politico reported.
"He was a vicious notorious anti-Semite who went down in history as propagandist for Hitler," Conyers, the senior-most black lawmaker in Congress, wrote in reference to Goebbels. "I beg of you to help raise the level of congressional discourse so that we can engage in vigorous debate without resort[ing] to personal attacks."
But West refused to back down, reportedly responding: "Mr. Conyers, The Democrat Party does indeed have a vicious propaganda machine. It espouses lies and deceit and the Master of deceptive information would truly be proud...I have been personally attacked and denigrated on countless occasions. I do not appreciate your letter…Truth is Powerful Sir! Steadfast & Loyal, Allen.”
In 2010, then-candidate West refused to apologize after he accused a Democratic "tracker" recording one of his campaign appearances of using "Gestapo-type intimidation tactics," according to the Miami Herald.