Wasserman Schultz brushes off West email

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) is dismissing Tuesday's personal attack by Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) as political bluster, not a hatchet job on the congresswoman, her office said Tuesday.

"I don't think that Congressman West is upset at the congresswoman, but rather with the fact that she highlighted that he and other Republicans are once again trying to balance the budget on the backs of seniors, children and the middle class," Jonathan Beeton, spokesman for Wasserman Schultz, said in an email.

West on Tuesday hammered Wasserman Schultz, the head of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), with a biting email calling her "the most vile, unprofessional and despicable member of the U.S. House of Representatives."

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The attack was a response to Wasserman Schultz's earlier criticism of West for supporting the GOP's "cut, cap and balance" proposal, which Democrats say would lead to sharp cuts in Medicare and Social Security benefits.

“The gentleman from Florida, who represents thousands of Medicare beneficiaries, as do I, is supportive of this plan that would increase costs for Medicare beneficiaries — unbelievable from a member from South Florida,” Wasserman Schultz charged Tuesday on the House floor, without mentioning West’s name.

West's response was to mince no words.

"If you have something to say to me, stop being a coward and say it to my face, otherwise, shut the heck up. Focus on your own congressional district!” he wrote in his email.

“From this time forward, understand that I shall defend myself forthright against your heinous characterless behavior," he added. "You have proven repeatedly that you are not a Lady, therefore, shall not be afforded due respect from me!”

Beeton downplayed West's tongue-lashing, arguing that the Florida freshman was simply trying to shift the focus of the debate away from the GOP's plans to slash seniors' benefits.

"As someone who lives in Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz's congressional district, Congressman West knows that we have hundreds of thousands of seniors in South Florida who have paid into Medicare throughout their lives and now rely on this program to keep them healthy and active," Beeton said. "The truth hurts."

The House passed the GOP's "cut, cap and balance" proposal on Tuesday night, though it's not expected to find similar success in the Senate.

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