David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan leader who wants to be governor of Louisiana, was heckled relentlessly during a speech that was further marred by a brawl between his supporters and protesters.

Duke, a state representative from Louisiana, told the crowd of about 450 people he has changed since the 1970s, when he was grand wizard and grand dragon of his state's Ku Klux Klan chapter."I was as intolerant as they are," he said as he pointed to hecklers in the crowd at the historic Old South Meeting House.

"Do you know what you people are up there in the audience?," he asked. "You're cowards."

One group of protesters chanted "Death to the KKK" and "Nazi" throughout his 40-minute speech.

But Joseph Molner, 60, praised Duke as a "great man" who "dared to speak in the name of the silent majority."