POLITICAL NOTEBOOK: David Duke Says GOP Turning His Way; Poor Clinton Odds
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) _ To hear David Duke, the Republican success in the 1994 elections proves he’s been right all along.
Duke is the former Ku Klux Klan leader and former Louisiana state representative who ran unsuccessfully as a Republican for Senate in 1990; for governor in 1991; and in the state’s GOP presidential primary in 1992.
Now, Duke says he is writing a book and mulling running for governor again this year. He says the GOP rout in the midterm elections proves his longtime themes have mainstream appeal.
For example, he said he has long called for dramatic steps to curb immigration, a flat tax to replace the federal income tax, major welfare reform and other conservative programs. While the Republican Party has on several occasions repudiated Duke, he repeated the old saw, ``imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,″ adding, ``I think the country is moving in my direction.″
Duke was a delegate to the weekend state Republican convention, and wandered about the receptions hosted by several 1996 GOP presidential prospects. For the record, he said he was backing Patrick J. Buchanan, the conservative commentator who had many unkind words for Duke when both were challenging President Bush in the 1992 primaries.
And he said Buchanan was hardly the only potential candidate who was borrowing his themes, citing Texas Sen. Phil Gramm and former Housing Secretary Jack Kemp.
``Sen. Gramm and Mr. Buchanan and Jack Kemp are all sounding like David Duke,″ said Duke. ``Pretty soon, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir will be singing from my songbook.″
True to form, Duke stoked a little controversy as he discussed the possibility of running for governor. With a crowded field, Duke said he believes he has a good chance of making a runoff. And he said he could win if the other runoff contender were black. Reps. Cleo Fields and William Jefferson, both of whom are black, say they intend to run.
Fields already is airing television ads, and Duke said the field already had ``a darkhorse _ if I can use that word _ Cleo Fields.″
As President Clinton mulls whom to pick as the next chairman of the Democratic National Committee, there are persistent rumors that former White House chief of staff Mack McLarty is among the top contenders.
A thousand times no, says a senior administration official.
After the rumor surfaced again this week, the official, at McLarty’s behest, said the longtime Clinton friend has no interest in the party position and had not been offered it.
McLarty, now a counselor to Clinton, is considered a contender for commerce secretary if the current occupant of that job, Ron Brown, leaves the administration to become chairman of Clinton’s re-election campaign. Brown has told associates he has little interest in the campaign role, but may have little choice if Clinton makes the request.
A new poll out this weekend might help explain Brown’s reluctance.
In a CNN-Time magazine poll conducted Jan. 5, only 24 percent of respondents said they expected Clinton to be elected to a second term. And 65 percent said they expected Clinton would not get a second term. Eleven percent said they weren’t sure.
The survey of 600 adults had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.