Tulsi Gabbard denounces David Duke, rejects his endorsement

Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardThe Hill's Morning Report - Diplomats kick off public evidence about Trump, Ukraine Outsider candidates outpoll insider candidates Krystal Ball: Tulsi Gabbard surges, is she the most electable? MORE (D-Hawaii) on Tuesday denounced David Duke, a founder and former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, and rejected his 2020 endorsement.

“I have strongly denounced David Duke’s hateful views and his so-called ‘support’ multiple times in the past, and reject his support,” Gabbard said in a statement to The Hill.

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“Publicizing Duke's so-called ‘endorsement’ is meant to distract from my message: that I will end regime-change wars, work to end the new cold war and take us away from the precipice of a nuclear war, which is a greater danger now than ever before.”

Duke, who founded a Louisiana branch of the KKK in 1974 and served as the grand wizard of the Knights of the Klu Klux Klan until 1979, on Monday appeared to endorse Gabbard, the first Hindu member of Congress.

“Tulsi Gabbard in 2020. Finally a candidate for President who will really put America First?” he tweeted, linking to an article about President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP senators balk at lengthy impeachment trial Warren goes local in race to build 2020 movement 2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes MORE’s recent proposal to keep troops in Iraq. Gabbard, an Iraq war veteran, is a staunch opponent of military interventionism.

Duke also changed his Twitter page banner to a picture of Gabbard, endorsing Gabbard for president. The text reads, “Tulsi Gabbard for President. Finally a candidate who will actually put America First rather than Israel First!”

Duke, who endorsed Trump in 2016, has appeared to sour on the president in office. Trump disavowed Duke's endorsement.

Duke later called on Trump in November 2016 to pick Gabbard as his secretary of State, an endorsement the Hawaii Democrat also rejected.

“U didn't know I'm Polynesian/Cauc? Dad couldn't use 'whites only' water fountain. No thanks. Ur white nationalism is pure evil,” she tweeted at the time. 

“Our movement is one of love/aloha, inclusivity. Duke represents hatred, racism, anti-Semitism, fear. We don’t want his ‘support.’ Period,” she added in Dec. 2016. 

Duke has unsuccessfully run for Congress and the presidency multiple times, but served in the Louisiana state House of Representatives from 1989 to 1992.

Gabbard is a member what is expected to be a crowded Democratic primary field. Several high-profile candidates, including Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenWarren goes local in race to build 2020 movement 2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes 2020 Dems put focus on stemming veteran suicides MORE (D-Mass.), Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisWarren goes local in race to build 2020 movement 2020 Dems put focus on stemming veteran suicides The Memo: Democrats confront prospect of long primary MORE (D-Calif.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandCharlize Theron: We didn't want the politics to overshadow 'Bombshell' Senate panel clears controversial Trump court pick Advocates step up efforts for horse racing reform bill after more deaths MORE (D-N.Y.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerGOP senator blasts Dem bills on 'opportunity zones' Booker on Erdoğan: We should not be 'rolling out the red carpet for a ruthless authoritarian' The Hill's Morning Report - Diplomats kick off public evidence about Trump, Ukraine MORE (D-N.J.) have already said they’re running or suggested they intend to join the race.