Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke is launching a Senate bid in Louisiana, he announced Friday.

"After the great outpouring of overwhelming support, I'm proud to announce my candidacy for United States Senate," Duke said in a video on his YouTube page. 

Duke says he's running under the slogan of "America first" — a phrase also popularized by GOP nominee Donald TrumpDonald TrumpBiden prepares to confront Putin Biden aims to bolster troubled Turkey ties in first Erdoğan meeting Senate investigation of insurrection falls short MORE and used in his acceptance speech Thursday night at the Republican convention.


In the YouTube video, Duke praised Trump, who he said had adopted policies he's long advocated for and promised to campaign on similar issues.

"I'm overjoyed to see Donald Trump and most Americans embrace most of the issues that I've championed for years," Duke said. "I was the first major candidate in modern times to promote the policy of 'America first.' 

Duke, a self-professed white supremacist, vowed to defend European Americans in Congress.

"The fact is that European Americans need at least one man in the United States Senate, one man in the Congress, who will defend their rights and heritage," he said. "I believe in equal rights for all and respect for all Americans. However, what makes me different is I also demand respect for the rights and the heritage of European Americans.

"I believe in equal rights for all and respect for all Americans. However, what makes me different is I also demand respect for the rights and the heritage of European Americans," he added in the video. "I passed the only bill in American forbidding affirmative action programs that racially discriminated against the best qualified." 

Duke also said he would fight for campaign finance reform, enforce antitrust laws to "break up media conglomerates," and fair trade. 

Duke is running to replace retiring Sen. David VitterDavid Bruce VitterBiden inaugural committee to refund former senator's donation due to foreign agent status Bottom line Lysol, Charmin keep new consumer brand group lobbyist busy during pandemic MORE (R), bringing the total number of Republicans in the primary field to 22. 

Also running are Louisiana Reps. Charles Boustany and John FlemingJohn Calvin FlemingLobbying world Trump wants Congress to delay Census deadlines amid pandemic Meadows sets up coronavirus hotline for members of Congress MORE

The National Republican Senatorial Committee does not back Duke’s run, executive director Ward Baker said.

“We will not support David Duke. Several GOP candidates in LA will have a great impact on our country. He is not one of them,” Baker tweeted Friday morning.

Duke unsuccessfully ran for the Senate, House and governor of Louisiana during the 1990s. He is also a convicted felon who pleaded guilty in 2002 to cheating on his taxes and bilking his supporters. 

Duke is an enthusiastic supporter of Trump, once calling him the "white knight" for "European American" interests. 

But his endorsement of Trump snared the candidate in controversy earlier this year. Initially Trump appeared to sidestep questions about Duke's support, but later said he disavowed his endorsement.

Duke's Senate announcement comes amid racial tensions in Louisiana following the shooting death of a black man by white police officers in Baton Rouge. That was followed by the killing of three law enforcement officers by a black man.

This story was updated at 12:08 p.m.