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Boehner Goes to Bat Again for ‘Decent, Honest’ Scalise

Boehner Stern in His Defense of Scalise 0:37

House Speaker John Boehner defended his third-in-command Rep. Steve Scalise again Wednesday as the Louisiana Republican insisted that he rejects "any form of bigotry."

Asked about Scalise's 2002 speech to a white nationalist group, first revealed late last month, Boehner called the House minority whip "a decent, honest person who made a mistake. We've all made mistakes."

Scalise also appeared before the Congressional press corps Wednesday for the first time since his speech to the group founded by famed former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke came to light over the holiday break.

Asked by NBC News to respond to Duke's recent comments that Scalise "echoed a lot of my ideology and my policies," he said he rejects bigotry and pointed to support he’s gotten from Democrats who “know the truth and know what’s in my heart."

"I reject any form of bigotry, bigotry of all kinds," Scalise said.

Some Democrats and even conservative commentators have called for Scalise's ouster from his post as the third-ranking Republican in the House, accusing the Louisiana lawmaker of at least turning a blind eye to the mission of the group, called the European-American Unity and Rights Organization.

Pressed further on why he attended the meeting, Scalise directed the press to his statement last month, in which he called the speech "a mistake I regret."

"I think that's where the story ends," he said Wednesday.

Boehner’s strong defense of Scalise on camera appears to indicate that the Speaker is confident there is nothing more to the 2002 incident and Scalise will remain in his current position.

GOP aides tell NBC News that Scalise still has the strong support of the House GOP Conference.

- Luke Russert and Carrie Dann