David Duke says he is considering challenging Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), who’s tried in recent weeks to distance himself from his years-old ties to the former Ku Klux Klan leader.
“I might have to run against Steve Scalise because you know, I really might,” Duke said Wednesday on “The Jim Engster Show” on Baton Rouge’s TALK 107.3. “I mean, I’m definitely going to consider it because it’s so disgusting to me to see … he got elected on false pretenses.”
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Duke’s comments, first reported Thursday by BuzzFeed, came during an oftentimes heated interview in which he repeatedly described Scalise as a “sellout” for backing away from the white nationalist. “Steve Scalise, let me tell you something, this is the way I view it now: I mean this guy is a sellout. He’s not David,” Duke said.
Duke pointed to reports suggesting that Scalise cast himself as “David Duke without the baggage” while running for Louisiana Legislature in 1995, and said that the House majority whip had subsequently misled voters by disavowing that link.
“He elected supposedly David Duke without the baggage but he is not David Duke, and he certainly doesn’t — he’s basically condemning the people of his district who voted overwhelmingly for me to be their U.S. senator and voted to be their governor,” Duke said. “He’s insulting every one of the members who actually voted for him because he is suggesting they’re racist because they supported my views.”
After reports emerged in late December that Scalise had spoken in 2002 to the Duke-founded European-American Unity and Rights Organization, the third-ranking House Republican was quick to distance himself, condemning the group’s views and saying that speaking at the event “was a mistake” that he “regret[s].”
In addition to floating a challenge of Scalise, Duke also called on the congressman to give up his leadership position and his House seat. “I call on him to step down. He should step down because he has betrayed, he has betrayed his people,” he said.
Duke — who said on the radio show that he is not registered to vote — was a state representative in Louisiana from 1988 to 1992 and has run unsuccessfully for Louisiana governor and both chambers of Congress.
Scalise’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.