David Duke, former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and avid fan of Donald Trump, announced on Friday that he is running for U.S. Senate in Louisiana.
Duke enthusiastically endorsed Donald Trump in February. Trump initially refused to disavow the endorsement from the former KKK leader, earning widespread condemnation across the political spectrum before caving to pressure from party establishment and distancing himself.
At the time, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) made clear that he felt Duke, and anyone affiliated with him was not welcome in the Republican Party. “[Trump] must reject any group or cause that is built on bigotry. This party does not prey on people’s prejudices,” Ryan told reporters. “We appeal to their highest ideals. This is the party of Lincoln. We believe all people are equal in the eyes of God and our government. This is fundamental, and if someone wants to be our nominee, they must understand this.”
Duke, however, has remained an outspoken supporter of Trump, whose anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric has garnered support from a wide array of white nationalists. Duke told his supporters any of them not backing Trump is committing “treason to [their] heritage.” The notorious white supremacist has staunchly defended Trump against any accusations of racism, often with anti-semitic rhetoric blaming the Jews. On Tuesday, Duke brought his anti-semitism to Melania Trump’s defense, arguing that her plagiarized speech was the deliberate result of sabotage by a (he assumed) Jewish speechwriter, in conspiracy with other “Jewish media insiders.”
In the video announcing his candidacy, Duke reiterated his excitement that Donald Trump and the mainstream Republican Party is spreading his message.
“I am overjoyed to see Donald Trump and most Americans embrace most of the issues I’ve championed for years,” Duke said. “The New York Times admitted that my platform became the GOP’s mainstream and propelled Republicans to the control of Congress.”
Duke vowed to defend the “rights and heritage of European Americans,” touting his opposition to affirmative action and saying that immigration must be stopped because it is, in his view, a “cleansing of the people whose forefathers created America.” “The time is now. The revolution is coming in the United States of America. For the real people, for the vast majority of the American people,” Duke said. “Thousands of special interest groups stand up for African Americans, Mexican Americans, Jewish Americans, et cetera, et cetera. The fact is European Americans need at least one man in the United States Senate, one man in the United States Congress, who will defend their rights and heritage.”
In the most recent U.S. Congress, the most diverse ever, four out of every five members is white.