Stand strong.

(Palm Beach Post)– U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Plantation, this morning criticized “political opportunism” in the wake of Saturday’s shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., and said he has no plans to tone down his own “stronger language.”

Within hours of the shooting that killed six and critically injured Giffords, some commentators placed the massacre in the context of the nation’s heated political climate and blamed the tea party movement, Sarah Palin and other conservatives although no public evidence has suggested accused gunman Jared Lee Loughner was associated with or sympathetic to any of them. Some critics pointed to West’s own words — such as saying citizens must be “well-informed and well-armed because this government that we have now is a tyrannical government” — as contributing to that climate.

West has rejected such criticism and accused those making it of trying to score political points.

“One of the concerns I do have is the political opportunism that has come out of this. That’s kind of deplorable and unconscionable what some people are doing. This is not the time to start looking for grandstanding and things of that nature,” West said on his way into a West Boca Chamber of Commerce breakfast at Boca Lago Country Club.

Asked if he had any regrets about his choice of words in the past, West said, “No I don’t, because I think when you look at the president saying don’t bring a knife to a gun fight and the fact that the president talked about if the Republicans were to win in the midterms we’re going to have hand-to-hand combat.”

He also said a blogger in Broward County had once said West should be skinned alive, so “I think there are some things that both sides need to be concerned about.”

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