"Every time that you have a story on the front page of the local newspaper about a Klan rally ... the Klan or particular group does get a [new] member or two," he said. "On the other hand, I think that the reality is, 99.9 percent of people who read about that or hear on television or radio about these groups are essentially inoculated against them. It can absolutely harm [the groups] more than it's helping them."
While violence was the calling card of the old Klan, Howard repeatedly said the Klan had moved on from that tactic. Yet he and others freely talked about a looming race war if Obama was re-elected. The KKK and other groups call it "the storm."
"Oh, it's going to happen. And I fear it. ... And it ain't just me. ... If he gets four more years, Barack Obama will ruin this country. And white people will be in concentration camps, and if you don't think that white people [can] be in concentration camps, [you] are sadly mistaken."
His solution to avoid this is an all-white south. All blacks, Hispanics and Jews would be banned and given someplace else in America to live.
When pressed, Howard admitted his idea threatened his stated commitment to nonviolence.
"If they will not peacefully then the only way is through violence," he said.
"A race war," McFadden said.
"Very much so," Howard said.
Another Klan leader in Mississippi was Sam Bowers, the man responsible for the murders dramatized in "Mississippi Burning."
When he saw the movie as a boy, Howard said, he asked his mother, "Who are these guys on here that's got these hoods on their heads and beating up these people and stuff like that? And my mom said, 'Baby, that's the Klan.' And that's when I was 7, 8 years old. And that's when I first knew what the Klan was, and after that I fell in love with it."
"I don't endorse murder," Howard said.
What about other forms of violence?
"I just don't endorse murder."
So he was OK with other forms of violence?
"You're gonna have to form your own opinion on that," he said.
Although there are more Klan members now than in past decades, the numbers are still not more than several thousand, according to the SPLC. But the danger they pose isn't collective but individual.
"It gets dangerous not so much because a whole bunch of Klansmen get together and plan to blow up a federal building or to murder 1,000 people with a bomb," Potok said. "It's sort of these lone wolf characters that get frustrated with their leaders, that break away, that one day walk out of their house and start shooting. We see a lot of signs of that kind of anger building, and ultimately it will translate into criminal violence."
Howard carries a pistol, concealed, at all times, he said.
Howard admitted he was angry at the government.
"I'm very mad at the government. ... It hurts my heart to see all the people that I lost and I won't ever get them back. ... So yeah, do I got a lot of hate in me? You better -- yeah, I got a lot of hate in me. A lot of hate for nothing. I got a lot of built up in me, a lot of hurt. A lot of hurt because I don't understand it."