As conservative Republicans turn up the heat on House majority whip Steve Scalise over his 2002 appearance at an event associated with former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, Wyoming Republican senator John Barrasso Sunday cited an African-American House Democrat’s defense of Scalise.
Scalise, a moderate Republican from Louisiana, this week acknowledged having addressed a group affiliated with Duke in 2002, although there is some discrepancy about the circumstances of the meeting. Establishment Republicans have been defending Scalise, but conservatives say the party would not have been so supportive were Scalise a tea partier.
Barrasso, a member of Republican Senate leadership, called Scalise’s appearance a “grave mistake” but said he should stay on as House whip.
“I think [Representative] Cedric Richmond makes the point,” Barrasso said in an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press. “He’s a congressman from the next district over. He’s a Democrat. He’s an African American, and he says Steve Scalise doesn’t have a racist bone in his body, and I’m going to stick with that.”
Barrasso said his constituents are not concerned about the issue.