After registering to run for the U.S. Senate in Louisiana Friday, former Ku Klux Klan leader and registered Republican David Duke is drawing criticism from high-profile GOP leaders.
On Saturday, Chairman of the Republican National Committee Reince Priebus was quick to distance the party from the white supremacist, saying the RNC has no place for “hateful bigotry”.
Other high-profile Republicans also promptly denounced Duke’s Senate bid.
Roger Villere, chairman of the Republican Party of Louisiana, said in a statement the party “will play an active role in opposing” him, calling Duke a “hate-filled fraud who does not embody the values of the Republican Party.”
Ward Baker, with the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said Duke will not have the support of his organization “under any circumstance.”
Duke declared his intention to run for the Senate citing the recent shooting deaths of law enforcement by a black man as a catalyst in the decision.
Duke said he believed “the climate of this country has moved in my direction,” possibly a nod to the racially-charged rhetoric Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has used on his campaign trail.
Trump faced criticism during the primary from some GOP leaders for failing to immediately denounce the tacit endorsement of Duke, who once told his radio show audience that a vote for any other candidate “is really treason to your heritage.” Trump eventually did disavow Duke.
Trump’s campaign has not released any statement on Duke’s announcement.
*With files from The Associated Press