Ex-Klansman David Duke Reportedly Considering Presidential Bid

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The Daily Beast is reporting that former Klansman David Duke is thinking about seeking the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.

Duke, 61, plans to test the waters by launching a 25-city tour later this month.

A former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan who later served in the Louisiana legislature from suburban Jefferson Parish, Duke — running as a Republican — garnered considerable national attention in 1990 and 1991 when he waged high-profile bids for the U.S. Senate and governor. 
 
 He lost both races, but not before scaring the daylights out of the national leadership of both major parties.
 
Duke, who spent $2,615,000 on his 1990 Senate bid, polled an astonishing 607,391 votes, or 44%, against Democratic Sen. J. Bennett Johnston.  A year later, he finished a strong second in the state’s crowded gubernatorial “jungle primary” — polling an eye-opening 32% while eliminating Gov. Buddy Roemer, who had recently switched parties, from the race — but eventually lost to Democrat Edwin Edwards in a runoff election.
 
Nationally, the Republicans had strongly repudiated Duke’s candidacy in 1991.  Then-President George H. W. Bush was among the most outspoken, calling Duke a charlatan, a man unfit to hold public office because of his espoused racist and neo-Nazi beliefs.

“When someone asserts the Holocaust never took place, then I don’t believe that person ever deserves one iota of public trust,” said Bush shortly before the runoff election between Duke and Edwards.  “When someone has so recently endorsed Nazism, it is inconceivable that someone can reasonably aspire to a leadership role in a free society.”

If Duke joins the crowded field for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, it will be his third campaign for the presidency. After briefly seeking the Democratic nomination in 1988, Duke received 47,004 votes in the general election as the nominee of the far-right Populist Party.

Four years later, the former Louisiana lawmaker sought the Republican presidential nomination, finishing a distant third to President Bush and conservative columnist Pat Buchanan in virtually every primary he entered before withdrawing from the contest in late April.

 

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