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White House Throws Scalise an Anchor

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democrats from the White House on down are ganging up on Majority Whip Steve Scalise.  

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest didn't explicitly call on the House GOP to dump their No. 3 Republican following the revelation that the Louisianan spoke to a white supremacist group in 2002 .  

Republicans will have to decide whether they're going to elevate someone who described himself as "David Duke without the baggage," Earnest told reporters, an apparent reference to this local column . Earnest also noted that Republicans, including Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, have spoken about the need to expand their outreach to women, gays and minorities, and the GOP will have to decide if keeping Scalise around advances that goal.  

Democratic Party Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz earlier blasted the GOP, trying to tar the GOP's 2016 field.  

“As the new Congress begins, nothing discredits Republican claims of ‘outreach’ and bringing people together more than their decision to keep Steve Scalise at the top tier of the elected leadership of their caucus," she said in a statement.  

“Anyone living in this century should have known better than to attend and speak at a white supremacist event, particularly one founded and led by David Duke, and Scalise’s explanation that he wasn’t aware isn’t credible by a long shot. But when House Republicans stand by him years later, and GOP White House hopefuls defend or refuse to speak out, they legitimize his actions."  

Scalise has shown no signs of stepping down in the face of the controversy, and other top Republicans have supported him after he called the appearance a mistake. The 114th: CQ Roll Call's Guide to the New Congress Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.