Former Louisiana House member and Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, David Duke, announced Friday that he is running for the Senate.* Duke will run to replace Louisiana Sen. David Vitter, who declined to run for re-election after a failed gubernatorial bid last year.
Duke seems to have taken inspiration from the success of Donald Trump’s campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, which the former reality TV star accepted on Thursday. Of that convention speech, Duke commented that he “couldn’t have said it better” himself.
Great Trump Speech, America First! Stop Wars! Defeat the Corrupt elites! Protect our Borders!, Fair Trade! Couldn't have said it better!— David Duke (@DrDavidDuke) July 22, 2016
A central campaign theme of Duke’s looks very likely to be a brand of white nationalism, though one less subtle than Trump’s version.
“I believe in equal rights for all and respect for all Americans,” Duke said in the announcement. “However, what makes me different is that I also demand respect for the rights and the heritage of European Americans.”
Duke has claimed in the past that he was never a white supremacist, so he will probably attempt to steer away from explicit white supremacist messaging as much as possible. Last year Salon published a good roundup of some of the most racist things he has said over the years.
- “We don’t want Negroes around. We don’t need Negroes around,” he said in 1985.
- “[A black gets a job and] works hard, but he’s fighting a losing battle against his genes,” he said in 1985.
- “White people don’t need a law against rape, but if you fill this room up with your normal black bucks, you would, because niggers are basically primitive animals,” he said in 1975.
- “Divorced from White influence and culture, [blacks] reverted quickly to their genotype—increasingly typical of black societies around the world. Males exhibited exaggerated sexual aggression and promiscuity that led to the dissolution of the Black nuclear family in America,” he said in 1998.
- “Our clear goal must be the advancement of the white race and separation of the white and black races,” he said in 1998.
In his announcement speech, Duke credited Trump with popularizing his own pet issues.
“I’m overjoyed to see Donald Trump and most Americans embrace most of the issues I’ve championed for years,” Duke said, citing Trump’s opposition to immigration and free trade, his apparent support for campaign finance reform, and his hostility to the media. “Real revolution is coming in the United States of America for the real people, the vast majority of the American people.”
Duke also attacked "the oligarchs of finance and media" and promised to "break up the anti-American huge media conglomerates.”
During a February interview with Jeff Rense’s online radio program, Duke outlined his support for Trump. Here are some of the things he offered at the time to explain what he liked about Trump's candidacy.
- “I [thought] I would never see a candidate stand up and possibly just maybe put America first, and Donald Trump may do that.”
- “There is no candidate—other than if I were running—that is more hated by the Jewish media establishment, the Jewish money establishment, the Jewish political establishment than Donald Trump.”
- “If he's controlled by the Jews, there’s no way he’d be saying what he's saying.”
- “He actually went to these Jewish moneybags and he says to their face, he says, ‘You’re not going to support me, because I’m not going to take your money and you don’t want anybody you can’t control.’ ”
- “I’m not saying the guy’s one of us. But he has made the immigration issue the critical issue it should be. If immigration continues in this country we have no future, we have no chance of winning, our people are being destroyed.”
- “His whole life he’s been having to deal with these Jews and my daughter said it pretty well the other day to me, she said … 'Dad, you know this guy is a gentile for sure, he’s been working his whole life with these Jews. Do you think he really likes these people?' ”
He doesn’t talk about “the Jews” or “the Negroes” so much on his official campaign website, but he does say this:
The controlled, Zionist-dominated media, constantly headlines that Dr. Duke was once a leader in a Klan organization. They fail to point out that he has always been non-violent and he has always condemned any kind of violence.
Duke's campaign site also points out that he “pursued a PhD in the largest university in Ukraine and in 2005 completed his Doctoral Defense in Kiev.” He now goes by Dr. David Duke and his Twitter bio says “PhD Dr. David Duke has a PhD in History.”
As Politico points out: “Duke is a convicted felon, pleading guilty in 2002 to bilking his supporters and cheating on his taxes. He spent a year in federal prison, but later denied any wrongdoing.”
Here is how the Republican Party of Louisiana reacted to the news:
Correction, July 22, 2016, 2:34 p.m.: This story originally misstated that Duke was a U.S. congressman.