Former KKK leader David Duke was one of the six candidates onstage at last night’s Louisiana Senate debate, in case anyone is still doubting whether Donald Trump has emboldened white supremacists.
It was one single poll that made Duke — who has credited Donald Trump for inspiring his latest political run — eligible to participate in the debate. And though Donald Trump wasn’t physically present in Louisiana last night, his stink was certainly in the air.
“Duke did what he does best: Act like a bigot and get media attention,” noted the Daily Beast. “Remind you of anyone?”
[Duke] even snuck in one of Trump’s favorite phrases, “America First,” in one of his responses Wednesday, savilly ensuring that the comparison would make it into articles about his debate performance.
In one of the most disgusting exchanges in the history of American political debate, Duke was asked why his shoddily designed website makes constant references to “CNN Jews.” His answer was not at all surprising.
“I’m not opposed to all Jews,” he said, as if in 2016 this was a necessary distinction to make.
But then he launched into a more explicit version of the kind of globalist conspiracy-mongering that has been a subtext of some of Trump’s recent speeches.
“There is a problem in America with a very strong, powerful, tribal group that dominates our media and dominates our international banking,” Duke said as if a member of the Third Reich.
“I’m voting for Donald Trump because he’s the only guy there fighting the rigged system,” Duke said when the candidates asked who they were voting for.
No matter how many times Trump has disavowed this kind of support, it’s what his candidacy has wrought. He is the one who has been endorsed just this week by a KKK publication. He is the one who has a white-nationalist financially contributing to his campaign and making robocalls on his behalf. And he is the one who taught Duke how to make headlines, how to say the things that are going to keep the media coming back for more.
“I will be Donald Trump’s most loyal advocate,” Duke said toward the end of the debate. “I hope he wins.”
Some tweets making the rounds last night show the five other participants fleeing the stage at the end of the debate, which took place in an empty auditorium. Duke remained at his middle podium, microphone off, ranting at no one in particular.
#LASen debate ends with David Duke standing alone on debate stage waving his arms & still speaking with microphones turned off @cspan pic.twitter.com/lAixdCzixv
— Craig Caplan (@CraigCaplan) November 3, 2016
Louisiana senate debate ended, and David Duke remained on stage alone shouting something. No audio, and only debate staff in auditorium.
— Claudia Koerner (@ClaudiaKoerner) November 3, 2016
To add insult to injury, the debate was held at a historically Black university. Outside the auditorium, dozens of students rightfully expressed outrage at the horror show going on inside their school:
New Orleans police unleashed pepper sprayed and threatened to tase students who were protesting former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke‘s appearance Wednesday night on the historically black Dillard University campus for a U.S. Senate debate.
As ThinkProgress reported from the ground, protests over the white supremacist’s presence–and silence from the administration in response to an open letter of demands–turned violent when a group of around 75 students tried to force their way into the mostly empty auditorium where the debate was being held.
Some protesters scattered after police started pepper-spraying students pushing their way in through a door. One student journalist tweeted that he could “taste the pepper spray.”
Police called to stop protesters from entering Dillard auditorium for #lasen debate: ‘Let us in! Let us in!’ pic.twitter.com/ZGvniIztxx
— Greg Hilburn (@GregHilburn1) November 2, 2016