Much was made last week of Gov. Bobby Jindal's "New Orleans" presidential announcement actually taking place in Kenner. Interestingly, Jindal's venue of choice, the Pontchartrain Center, has seen its share of recent presidential campaign history.
In March 1992, former Ku Klux Klan leader and one-time state Rep. David Duke, who was running a symbolic (and largely fundraising) campaign for president, held a rally at the center on the night before "Super Tuesday," when primary voters in many states (including Louisiana) turned out to vote. According to the Baton Rouge Advocate, about 150 people turned out to see Duke.
Four years later, it was Elizabeth Dole, wife of Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole, who worked a crowd at the Pontchartrain Center. She received good marks for her speech, but Dole won only 19 states in November 1996 — and Louisiana was not among them.
More recently, the Pontchartrain Center was the site of a bad night for the 2008 GOP nominee, Arizona Sen. John McCain. As Barack Obama sealed his party's presidential nomination in Minneapolis, McCain was in Kenner, talking about the failures of government (and using Hurricane Katrina as an example). McCain delivered his remarks awkwardly in front of a bilious green backdrop that did the 72-year-old candidate no visual favors. Late-night host Stephen Colbert even created a "John McCain Green Screen Challenge," in which Colbert asked viewers to doctor the video to "make him seem more interesting." They did, inserting McCain into clips from Night of the Living Dead and Raiders of the Lost Ark, as well as Madonna's "Vogue" video.