Picture: Sen. Chris McDaniel discusses the need for honesty and integrity in politics to an audience in DeSoto County during the race for U.S. Senate in 2014.

Former Mississippi Senate candidate Chris McDaniel (R) on Tuesday accused Republican leaders of enforcing a double standard in their response to the revelation that House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) spoke to a white supremacist group in 2002.

McDaniel nearly took out Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) in the this year’s GOP Senate primary. He was the target of attacks from the National Republican Senatorial Committee and some in the state GOP who said he should withdraw from the race because he had booked a speaking engagement at a conservative rally alongside a white nationalist. McDaniel ultimately withdrew from the rally.

On Tuesday, McDaniel told CNN that Republicans are backing Scalise because he’s in a position of power and that the party tried to dump him for a lesser sin because he posed a threat to the establishment.

“Of course there is a double standard for the GOP establishment,” he said.

McDaniel accused former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) of having “a long history of despicable comments, some of them overtly racist,” but said Barbour “receives a free pass from establishment politicians because of his perceived influence.”

“And yet, all the while, others are forever tarnished for less serious deeds,” McDaniel said.

“The establishment wings of both parties are more hypocritical than fair, seeking to crush anyone, friend and foe alike, who would threaten their hold on power,” he added.

Scalise on Tuesday said he regrets addressing the white supremacist group as a state legislator in 2002. He said he “wholeheartedly” condemns what the group stands for and that he didn’t realize its affiliation at the time.

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