Dillard president claims polls for David Duke debate ‘rigged’

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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – Tweets from Dillard University president Walter M. Kimbrough assert that the survey that determined David Duke’s eligibility for tonight’s Senate debate was “rigged.”

In a pair of early morning tweets, Kimbrough said it was “pretty clear polling [was] rigged” when it came to the criteria for candidate eligibility.

Referencing presidential candidate Donald Trump, whom Duke has openly campaigned for, Kimbrough suggested that the decision to include Duke was “for ratings.”

Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard, qualified for the televised debate by reaching five percent support in a poll used to determine which candidates had enough name recognition to attend.

But Kimbrough cited a University of New Orleans survey that had Duke polling at just two percent as evidence that the avowed white nationalist shouldn’t be allowed on stage at the historically black university.

“If @UofNO survey research center poll was used, my day would have been normal,” Kimbrough wrote.

Dillard spokesman David Grubb said Kimbrough was “surprised that no other debate organizers credited Duke with getting enough support to be among the candidates” at other recent debates, adding that Kimbrough “questions the methodology” that allowed Duke to qualify.

An unknown number of Dillard students, calling themselves Socially Engaged Dillard University Students, issued a letter earlier this week, asking the university to prevent “Neo-Nazi Klansman David Duke” from attending the debate, which is sponsored by WVUE and Raycom Media.

“His presence on our campus is not welcome, and overtly subjects the entire student body to safety risks and social ridicule,” SEDUS wrote in the open letter. “This is simply outrageous.”

The student group issued a list of demands, including requiring all non-permitted vehicles to park off campus, allowing 150 students selected by a lottery to attend the debate, the drafting of a statement by Dillard officials condemning the KKK and the Nazi Party, clearance for an on-campus protest, and the redirection of any funds generated by the debate to programs that educate the community on the impact of racism in politics.

Grubb said Raycom gave no criteria as to who would be allowed to participate in the debate, adding that a contract signed with Raycom in late September prevents the school from opening the debate to the public.

That contract also prevents the university from disclosing the amount Raycom paid the school to host the event, Grubb said.

While the debate will remain closed to the public, the on-campus student movie theater, which seats about 200 students, will be open during the debate. Ten students will be in the debate hall—including the student body president, a representative from the student radio station, and the student newspaper, according to Grubb.

The student group plans to protest. They will set up on the public space on St. Anthony and Gentilly Boulevard, near the campus, if they are prevented from setting upon Dillard’s campus.

Grubb said the university will not address “anonymous letters,” but added that the president’s door is always open to students.

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