Former KKK Leader David Duke Qualifies for Louisiana US Senate Debate

Duke will debate the Democratic and GOP candidates on TV on Nov. 2.

October 21, 2016, 3:42 PM

— -- Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke is polling high enough in his U.S. Senate seat bid that he will participate in a televised debate, to be held on Nov. 2 at a historically black university.

Duke tweeted last night, "Important News! I qualified for the U.S. Senate most important debate in Louisiana on Nov 2. I can't wait to tell truth nobody else dares!"

Important News! I qualified for the U.S. Senate most important debate in Louisiana on Nov 2. I can't wait to tell truth nobody else dares!

— David Duke (@DrDavidDuke) October 21, 2016

Candidates must show at least 5 percent support in the independent Mason-Dixon poll to qualify for the debate, under rules set by Raycom, an Alabama-based media corporation that will broadcast the event. Duke, who announced his campaign in July, made the cut with 5.1 percent, well behind frontrunners Republican State Treasurer John Kennedy's 24.2 percent and Democrat Foster Campbell's 18.9 percent.

The debate will be held in New Orleans at Dillard University, a historically black university.

In a phone interview, Duke told ABC News that Raycom contacted him Thursday night and extended an official invitation. Raycom spokeswoman Vicki Zimmerman confirmed.

"I was happy," Duke said. "We've got a great chance."

Duke founded the white supremacist Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in Louisiana in 1974 and held the title of grand wizard. He founded another white nationalist organization in 1980, the National Association for the Advancement of White People.

He has also ventured before into politics, serving one term as a Republican Louisiana state representative and running in the Democratic presidential primaries in 1988 and the Republican presidential primary contest in 1992. He has also run unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate, the House of Representatives, the Louisiana governorship and the Louisiana State Senate.

In this campaign, Duke is running as a Republican and said he's focusing on immigration. "Unless immigration is stopped," he said, "the whole basis of America is changed. We will lose our rights. We'll lose our gun rights. We will lose a lot of our freedom."

His platform has seven main planks including calls to "stop the ethnic cleansing of America," alleging that white Americans of European descent are being persecuted, and "stop the racist discrimination of affirmative action programs."

He also proposes an end to the IRS and the Federal Reserve Bank.

Democratic candidate Foster Campbell said in an email, “It’s unfortunate that the debate organizers have allowed Mr. Duke to participate. His destructive rhetoric is a distraction from this campaign, which is about our future, not our past.”

Duke is among more than 20 candidates vying to replace Republican Sen. David Vitter, according to the Louisiana Secretary of State's website. If no candidate gets 50 percent on Nov. 8, the top two vote-getters will compete in a runoff Dec. 10.

While the Mason-Dixon poll places Duke's support at 5.1 percent, the candidate said his campaign's in-house polls show him in the lead.

"There is no gap" between him and the other candidates, Duke said. "I always fly under the radar. If you look at the history of polling me in primary and previous races, I've always gotten at least two to three times more votes than the polls actually showed."

A professed Trump supporter, Duke said, "I'll be his biggest supporter in the Senate. I'll certainly push very hard to continue to enforce the border."

The Trump campaign has declined his support and attempted to distance itself from him.

Republican John Kennedy's campaign has not yet returned ABC News' request for comment.

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