BATON ROUGE, La. -- Gov. Buddy Roemer advised his 412,000 primary election supporters Thursday he would vote for Edwin Edwards in the runoff for governor, saying he could not support David Duke because it would be 'suicide for Louisiana.'
Edwards, a populist Democrat who served three prior terms as governor, and Duke, a Republican state representative criticized for his white supremacist views, had both courted Roemer's support since they finished one-two in the Oct. 19 primary election.
'I cannot, will not, must not vote for David Duke,' Roemer, also a Republican, said. 'It would be suicide for Louisiana. And, since my choices are only two, Edwards gets my vote. He does not get my endorsement. His actions over the past eight years prevent that.'
Edwards, Roemer said, 'is at least saying the right things about integrity in his appointments and in his commitments to maintain environmental sensitivity, educational excellence and economic rebuilding.'
Roemer emphasized he does not like professional politicians such as Edwards and Duke, and that he does not trust them.
'But choosing between these two is easy,' Roemer said. 'I could never vote for Duke -- too much hate, too much hurt, too little truth, too bad for Louisiana. So I will vote for Edwards with all my fears and hopes and tears and doubts and prayers going to the polls with me.
'Duke has no chance to help our state,' Roemer said. 'Edwards has one chance. I pray to God that he takes it.'
Roemer discussed several matters that he perceived as negative factors if Duke were elected. He asserted that a Duke victory Nov. 16 would make welfare costs rise in Louisiana because there would losses of jobs -- putting more people on welfare and causing others to leave to seek employment elsewhere.
Louisiana faces real possibilities of a 'devastating' economic cutoff by business, industry and tourism interests if Duke wins, Roemer said. Louisianians will 'never know the jobs he will cost us, because most companies and investors and citizens of the world will just go somewhere else.'
As for Duke himself, Roemer said, 'Duke has lived a lifetime of hate and bigotry and ignorance and intolerance of Jews and blacks and of Catholics and of people who don't fit his prejudices.
'Now, he hasn't given one or two speeches about hate or made a youthful indiscretion or two, or had a slip of the tongue,' Roemer said. 'He has a solid, consistent lifetime of demagoguery, hate, prejudice, half-truths and no truth at all.'
Duke's main campaign theme has been welfare reform, 'as if that 2 percent of our budget is killing us,' Roemer said. 'On Duke's only theme, welfare, he is a phony. Like a Louisiana bullfrog, he is all mouth and no performance.'
Duke, campaigning in Alexandria, said Roemer's rejection of his candidacy smacked of 'inside politics that have really hurt this state for so long.
'I believe the people of this state are not going to be concerned about endorsements,' Duke said. 'They can make up their own minds in this race and I think they are going to elect me governor. I don't think an endorsement by Mikhail Gorbachev can help Edwin Edwards re-win the governorship of Louisiana after what he's done to us for so long.'