Louisiana U.S. Senate candidates trade jabs at heated final debate

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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – The leading six candidates in a crowded U.S. Senate race traded a lot of personal jabs when they took the stage tonight for the final debate held in an otherwise empty auditorium at Dillard University.

The debate, which was closed to the public, began with heated protests outside the auditorium. Students at Dillard University rallied against the university’s decision to allow David Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan leader, to be included in the debate at the historically black university. They also protested not being allowed inside the auditorium during the debate.

Multiple reports say students were arrested during the protest, and some reports say pepper spray was thrown into the crowd.

There are 24 candidates in the race, but only those candidates polling at 5 percent or higher were allowed to participate in this debate. Those candidates are Duke, U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, Louisiana Treasurer John Kennedy, Caroline Fayard, Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell and U.S. Rep. John Fleming. Fayard and Campbell are both Democrats. The other four candidates are Republicans.

Here are some of the highlights from the debate:

-Caroline Fayard, in her opening statement, said a student at a school asked her today if a “bad man” was running for Senate.  She said she answered, “Yes.  David Duke.”

-John Kennedy said his ballot number is 13, then gave Duke’s inmate number when he was a federal prisoner. Kennedy reminded everyone that Duke is a convicted felon. Duke served 15 months in federal prison for spending donations from supporters on his lifestyle and gambling habit.

-“Let me rebut! Let me rebut! You’re a typical media hack! Are you going to silence me?! I have a right to respond. That’s the problem with this. The federal government targeted me. They target anyone who stands up …” -David Duke screaming at debate moderator John Snell.

-“The brain is an amazing organ.” -John Kennedy

-David Duke is “a snake that slithered out of the swamp.” -Caroline Fayard

-“I’m not opposed to all Jews. I’m against Jews or anybody else that puts the interests of some other place over our own country.” -David Duke

-“I have nothing in common with David Duke except probably that we’re both breathing.” -Foster Campbell

-“[Hillary Clinton] should get the electric chair.” -David Duke