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With David Duke in the hall, turmoil erupts at Louisiana U.S. Senate debate

Protestors spar with police as Duke screams at the moderator, calls for Hillary Clinton to get the electric chair

louisiana mugNEW ORLEANS (CFP) — David Duke’s appearance at a November 2 U.S. Senate debate in Louisiana descended into turmoil, with the white racist screaming at the moderator and calling for Hillary Clinton’s execution, while police used pepper spray on angry protestors trying to get into the hall.

Protestors march against David Duke at Dillard University. (Courtesy: Twitter)

Protestors march against David Duke at Dillard University. (Courtesy: Twitter)

The sponsor of the debate, Raycom Media, which operates television states in four Louisiana cities, decided not to allow the public into the debate, leaving the six candidates on the stage talking to a television camera and a largely empty auditorium at Dillard University in New Orleans.

That didn’t sit well with protestors outside, who were angered by Duke’s presence at the historically black university and tried to force their way through a police cordon at the doorway. Six people were arrested, only one of which was a Dillard student, according to the university.

The specter of Duke was inescapable inside as well as outside the hall, with the moderator, John Snell, struggling mightily at times to prevent his presence from overwhelming the discussion.

Answering a question about Obamacare, Democrat Caroline Fayard pivoted to a direct attack on Duke.

“This snake has slithered out of the swamp, probably because the career politicians on this stage haven’t done their job effectively enough,” Fayard said. “But I’m here to tell … everybody who cares about the future of Louisiana that on November 8, the voters of Louisiana are going to join with me and cut the head off his hatred, once and for all.”

At another point, State Treasurer John Kennedy, a Republican who is leading the polls in the race, called Duke “a convicted liar,” a reference to his 2002 conviction for tax and mail fraud.

“He spent time in prison for lying to his supporters. He swindled them out of their money and took that money and used it for his gambling addiction,” Kennedy said.

Snell gave Duke 15 seconds to respond, and, when he tried to go over his allotted time, the fireworks began.

“You’re not a moderator. You’re a typical media hack,” Duke shouted, as Snell tried to go on to the next speaker. “You’re gonna silence me now? You’re going to silence me?”

Later in the debate, Snell asked Duke what he meant by repeated references to “CNN Jews” in his earlier complaints about the media’s coverage of Donald Trump’s Access Hollywood tape.

“There is a problem in America with a very strong, powerful, tribal group that dominates our media and dominates out international banking,” Duke said. “I’m not opposed to all Jews … I’m against Jews or anybody else that puts the interest of some other place, or another country, over our own country.”

He then pivoted to a criticism of American foreign policy in general — and Clinton’s role in it in particular.

“The lady should be getting the electric chair, being charged with treason,” he said.

Duke has been an outspoken supporter of Trump. During the debate, he said, “I will be Donald Trump’s most loyal advocate to make sure his nominees go to the Supreme Court.”

Duke was also the subject of a testy change between the two Democrats on the stage, Fayard and Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell, over an ad her campaign has run insinuating that Campbell has been friendly with Duke on the campaign trail.

“There’s no context in which it is acceptable to have a conversation, whether public or private, with someone like David Duke,” said Fayard, who insisted her ad was accurate.

But Campbell said the insinuation that he has been cozy with Duke not was “not just a lie, it’s a damn lie.”

“I have nothing in common with David Duke other that that we’re probably breathing,” Campbell said.

After the debate, Dillard issued a statement saying police used pepper spray as a “last resort” after protestors tried to enter the building. However, peaceful protests outside the hall were not impeded.

“At no time did Dillard discourage protests; either by students or members of the community. We shared a dual responsibility of providing a safe space for those protesters and for the orderly management of the event,” the statement said.

Raycom contracted with Dillard to host the debate before it knew Duke would qualify for the event. The university decided to go ahead and honor the contract, despite criticism from students and alumni unhappy about the prospect of Duke appearing at Dillard.

Of the 24 candidates running for the Pelican State’s open U.S. Senate seat, six qualified for the debate based on their support in a poll commissioned by Raycom — Kennedy, Campbell, Fayard, Duke, and U.S. Reps. Charles Boustany of Layfayette and John Fleming of Minden.

In Louisiana, all candidates regardless of party run in a “jungle” primary on November 8, with the top two vote-getters advancing to a December 10 runoff.

Polls show Kennedy and Campbell leading the race, which was apparent in the debate, with Boustany and Fleming taking aim at Kennedy and Fayard primarily targeting Campbell.

Here is the video of the debate:


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