White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest on Monday said allowing House Majority Whip Steve Scalise to keep his leadership role says a lot about Republicans “priorities and values,” but stopped short of calling on the Louisiana Republican to step down.
Earnest said President Barack Obama believes it is up to Republicans to decide whether Scalise should maintain his post after it was revealed the GOP lawmaker spoke to a white nationalist group in 2002.
“There is no arguing that who Republicans decide to elevate to a leadership position says a lot about what the conferences priorities and values are,” Earnest told reporters.
House Republicans have so far supported Scalise for addressing the European-American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO), a group founded by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, as a state legislator in 2002. House Speaker Boehner called it “an error in judgement.”
But Democrats have made the case that allowing Scalise to remain the third-ranking House Republican undermines the principles the party claims to stand for.
The White House spokesman suggested Scalise's role in the party is contrary to the GOP's goal of broadening their appeal to minorities.
“Ultimately, Mr. Scalise reportedly described himself as David Duke without the baggage. So it will be up to Republicans to decide what that says about their conference,” Earnest said.