Fox News host Greta Van Susteren over the weekend called on Majority Whip Steve Scalise, the number three Republican in the House, to resign after he admitted speaking at a conference of white supremacists in 2002.
Scalise, who once described himself as “David Duke without the baggage,” said last week that he had made a “mistake” by speaking to the group founded by the former KKK Grand Wizard.
During a panel discussion on Sunday, Washington Post reporter Robert Costa predicted that Scalise would weather the political storm because he had “expressed regret.”
But Susteren said that the Republican Party had missed a “huge opportunity” in its outreach to minority voters by not asking Scalise to resign.
“I don’t know if it’s fair to Scalise or not fair to Scalise, but associating with David Duke is grossly unwise,” she pointed out. “Everyone knows who David Duke is. I realized this was 12 years ago.”
“But if you want to send a message to the American people, the Republicans and Democrats, this would have been the opportunity to say he should step aside, whether it’s fair or not, and send a message that we’re not going to have this distraction, we really do want to have everybody on board.”
PBS host Tavis Smile argued that the problem with Scalise’s apology was that he had claimed that he didn’t know that he was speaking to a group of racists.
“Nobody buys that,” Smiley said. “To stand behind this one guy, risking the party expanding its base.”
“There are so many people saying so many awful things: Democrats, Republicans,” Susteren opined. “And the moral courage would be to step down because it sends a very bad message to the American people, and I also think there are a lot of people on the Democratic side of the aisle could likewise send a message too. This is an equal opportunity disgrace with politicians.”
Watch the video below from ABC’s This Week, broadcast Jan. 4, 2014.