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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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May 23rd, 2014
05:36 PM ET

Top Democrat: If Shinseki stays, it could cost Democrats the Senate

(CNN) – President Barack Obama's commitment, and the apparent commitment of his party, to stand by his Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, at least for now, does not extend to Democrats fighting for office on the campaign trail.

A number of them are now calling for Shinseki's resignation, including Republican-turned-Democrat Charlie Crist, who is running for Florida governor again, Alison Grimes, who is challenging Sen. Mitch McConnell's re-election bid in Kentucky, and Michelle Nunn running for Senate in Georgia.

Shinseki says he has no plans to resign over a scandal involving the alleged cover-up of excessive wait times at VA hospitals around the country.

CNN first reported that at least 40 veterans died while waiting for appointments through the Phoenix VA system. many of whom were allegedly placed on a secret waiting list.

Obama defended both his record on veterans and Shinseki's Wednesday, vowing accountability only after the investigations conclude.

A senior Democrat told CNN this week that if Shinseki is still in his job by November, it could cost Democrats the Senate.

That's a bit too stark, says The Washington Post's Dan Balz.

"He is toxic right now," says Balz. "But we've got a little ways to go in terms of the investigation, how the White House handles it, what more we may learn, or not learn, about the problems at the VA."

For more of political analysis from Dan Balz, check out the video above.

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