Protests, mudslinging take center stage at Raycom Media's U.S. Senate debate

RAW: Raycom Media's U.S. Senate debate

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WAFB) - Protests, mudslinging and outbursts dominated Wednesday's U.S. Senate debate between the six candidates who qualified for the debate based on a poll commissioned by Raycom Media.

Among those candidates was former KKK grand wizard David Duke, whose presence at Dillard University sparked fierce protests from students, and inside on the debate stage, things were not much better.

The race turned a page for the uglier Wednesday night as candidates made personal attacks and threw jabs at each other.

RELATED: Six leading candidates face off in Raycom U.S. Senate debate

Long before the debate hit the airwaves, a large group of protesters, which had both students and community members, stood outside on the Dillard campus.

Among other things, people from the historically black university expressed frustration that Duke was included in the debate, shouting chants such as "No Duke, No KKK, No fascist USA."

A Dillard senior was briefly detained while trying to push her way into the building and audience was not allowed in the auditorium. Police used pepper spray, while protesters launched water bottles into the air.

RELATED: VIDEO: Pepper spray used at Dillard as protesters decry David Duke's inclusion in debate

Inside the debate, jabs flew across the stage with Duke again serving as a lightning rod.

"I don't understand what it is like to wake up with so much hate in your heart," said John Kennedy, a Republican candidate and state treasurer.

"I spent this morning with a bunch of school children who asked me about this U.S. Senate race and they wanted to know if there was a bad guy I was running against, and I said 'Yes there's one. His name is David Duke,' and as a result, the eyes of the world and the nation are on us," said Caroline Fayard.

Duke fired back saying "Yeah, I'm the bad guy because I defend the people of this country that made this country great, gave us our constitution and our freedom, and we're losing our rights in America."

Candidates gave familiar, often textbook answers to most policy questions, instead focusing much attention on mudslinging.

Foster Campbell engaged with Fayard, a fellow Democrat, over her ad which insinuated he had a cozy relationship with Duke.

"It was a big lie. When you talk to those kids next time, tell them that you don't mind lying sometimes," Campbell said.

Meanwhile, Republicans continued the dogfight as John Fleming went after Kennedy, who is the front-runner.

"If you were my chief financial advisor, I would have fired you a long time ago John," Fleming said.

The one candidate that appeared to stay above the fray was Congressman Charles Boustany. Though whether anyone did anything to help themselves at the polls remains to be seen.

One of the few questions to get a clear response from all six candidates was also the last one about if their role in the Senate would be to compromise or to block the president if the person elected is not the candidate they support.

"I can work with anybody, I've got the legislative record to prove it, but I have principles and I'm not going to sacrifice those principles," Kennedy said.

"As somebody who stood up to my own party leadership as well as Democrats, I'm going to fight for what's right. I'm going to fight for our constituents, to fight for our principles, our conservative Louisiana principles no matter who is President of the United States," Fleming said.

"I'm always going to put the interest of the people of Louisiana first," Fayard said. "I'm not going to be trading on partisan political ego. I'm going to work hard with anybody he wants to make sure that the American dream remains bright and beautiful for all."

"If you really want some real change that somebody was going to work with Miss Clinton if she gets elected but will fight her every step of the way and stand up for you and for your family and your heritage and your freedom and your prosperity in this country if that's what you want if you want a real change you know who to vote for and it's me," Duke said.

"Of course I'll work with whoever gets to be president. I told that to the people of the state of Louisiana, we need somebody to help this state. We're a poor state, fighting people all the time when they're right, and you fight them it doesn't do anything," Campbell said.

"I've worked with Party leaders, I've worked with the opposite party as long as it didn't violate my principles," Boustany said. "When John Boener opposed me in getting two new veterans clinics, I won, and those veterans clinic are under construction today for our veterans who serve this country. At times, we've found ways to work together to solve problems such as revamping our customs laws to take care of the seafood industry that was being hammered by foreign seafood producers."

Things did quiet down as the protest dissipated for the most part after the debate wrapped up.

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