Poll after poll indicates that GOP voters are not particularly happy with the field of candidates that are vying for the 2012 GOP nomination. But how would they feel if white supremacist David Duke jumped into the race? Well, since polls also put a high premium on electability, I'm guessing they'd feel even more dispirited about it. But we'll have to see if anything comes of the news today that Duke is mulling getting into the presidential fray, as Eve Conant reports for The Daily Beast.
Add to the growing list of candidates considering a bid for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012 America’s most famous white-power advocate: David Duke.
Yikes! That's not good news. But before we get too deep in to speculating, I'll point out that Duke doesn't exactly have imminent plans to file with the FEC or anything. Rather, he's embarking on "a tour of 25 states to explore how much support he can garner for a potential presidential bid." So, we are in the purely embryonic stage of an official Duke candidacy.
Conant's larger story is one of various white nationalist factions gearing up to run for office, by "starting to file paperwork and print campaign literature for offices large and small." As she notes, "Most aren’t winning -- not yet." (That's something of an understatement, as the primary impediment faced by white-supremacist candidates seems to be that moment when voters find out they are white supremacists.) Those that are flirting with running for office, great and small, seem to hope that the rise of the Tea Party will provide some coattails for their ambition. But as Don Black, who founded the white supremacist organization Stormfront tells Conant, the Tea Party is "skittish when it comes to talking about racial realities," and "are too conditioned to run like scared rabbits when called racists.”
Of course, the same skittishness is detectable within the Ku Klux Klan, who have recently begun to undertake that very modern task of "rebranding" themselves.
In two interviews with The Huffington Post this week, National Membership Director for the Ku Klux Klan, LLC Pastor Travis Pierce spoke proudly of the KKK’s newly “positive” message, and said that its objection to the WBC's tactics is nothing new. In fact, he said, the group released a statement months ago deploring WBC’s actions, repudiating its tactics of protesting “the funerals of U.S. soldiers, men and women who die serving our Nation.”
Pierce framed the modern KKK as a victim of public perception, and said its current leadership is moving the organization in a new direction. “You have to concentrate on one specific goal and work at it, and that’s the type of leadership we have now,” he said. “We know how to approach those issues, we’re willing to work through the system in any way we can.”
Pierce also repeated, loudly and insistently, that the KKK no longer condones violence, and that the Klan’s history of violence has been “overplayed” throughout time. “We have people call up, ‘Why are you still killing black people?’ I say: we’re not. It would be on the front page of the newspaper.”
It has a certain ring to it, I guess: "The Ku Klux Klan: No longer killing black people, okay?" So far, the effort to rebrand themselves has mainly revealed itself in a KKK counter-protest of the Westboro Baptist Church -- which basically proves that nearly everyone in the world opposes the Westboro Baptist Church. (Though in a statement, the Klan does confirm that they share "many of [the Westboro Baptist Church's] teachings" -- by which they mean they hate gay people, too. Just not in the way Westboro does!
One interesting wrinkle of a possible Duke run would be that he'd be reunited on the stump with one of his former political opponents, former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer. In 1991, Roemer switched parties, running for re-election as a Republican. The move pleased the Louisiana Republican elite as much as it did state Democrats, and with state party officials backing Clyde Holloway, it sheared enough support away from Roemer to give Duke a second place finish in the state's "jungle primary."
Duke would go on to lose the election to the Democrat, Edwin Edwards, who Roemer ended up endorsing. Now, Roemer is mounting his own quixotic presidential bid, and so far his polling numbers have remained low enough to disqualify him from participating in GOP debates. I'd bet that Duke would fare even worse, which means that if he decides to jump in, the best he can hope for is to renew this old acquaintance from the sidelines. I wouldn't expect Roemer to be too friendly, though!