Tulsi Gabbard denounces David Duke, rejects his endorsement

Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardDemocratic candidates face hard choices as 2020 field winnows Steyer calls on DNC to expand polling criteria for debates Gabbard hits DNC over poll criteria for debates 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 TrumpGraham: America must 'accept the pain that comes in standing up to China' Weld 'thrilled' more Republicans are challenging Trump New data challenges Trump's economic narrative 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 WarrenTrump preps conspiracy theory to explain faltering economy Sanders, Warren back major shift to fight drug overdoses Rendell: Biden 'baked in' as Democratic nominee MORE (D-Mass.), Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisSanders doubles down on 'Medicare For All' defense: 'We have not changed one word' Obama reveals his summer playlist Democratic candidates face hard choices as 2020 field winnows MORE (D-Calif.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandDemocratic candidates face hard choices as 2020 field winnows The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch Gabbard, Steyer inch toward making third Democratic debate MORE (D-N.Y.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerSteyer calls on DNC to expand polling criteria for debates Gabbard hits DNC over poll criteria for debates The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch MORE (D-N.J.) have already said they’re running or suggested they intend to join the race.