Former Louisiana Governor and 2012 presidential candidate Buddy Roemer believes it's time to throw heat, stand tall and be free to lead. The outspoken ex-Republican candidate spoke with DigitalJournal.com about his bid for the White House.
In every election cycle, there is usually one candidate that attempts to shake up the race by bringing forth issues that are often ignored during establishment political discourse. Four years ago, Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich and former Alaskan Senator Mike Gravel tried doing this in the Democratic primaries and Texas Congressman Ron Paul successfully initiated conversation about the nation’s debt, monetary system and its foreign policy.
This year, there is one candidate that is identifying one of the primary matters in American politics: money. Former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer has been travelling across the country warning Americans about the danger of special interests infiltrating the present two-party system.
State of campaign
Roemer, who spoke with Digital Journal in February when he was running for president as a Republican, is seeking the nomination for one of the newest parties on the political scene: Americans Elect, a not-for-profit organization giving the American electorate the option of electing candidates through an online system and voting for the candidate and not the party.
Since he ended his bid for the GOP nomination, Roemer has seen more television time on network like MSNBC and Fox News than when he ran for the Republican nod. His poll numbers have also gone up, he admits, though, they are still low. According to a survey by Democracy Corps, Roemer is garnering seven percent support.
“I’ve been on the road trying to get heard on my issues and having only modest success; it’s very difficult,” said Roemer, speaking from Wisconsin before a campaign event Wednesday. “You hate to be alone in the middle of a political campaign that’s when you need crowds, debate, pushing and shoving but I think generally I have been ignored.”
Despite being shafted by the establishment, Roemer’s campaign contributions are now more than $1 million, it has $250,000 in the bank and zero debt and since he can’t generate media attention, the former congressman has relied on social media as his means of campaigning. Also, he had 100,000 people donate $3 each and more than 16,000 contributed $40 to his campaign.
Although joining Americans Elect was not part of his original strategy, Roemer believes the third party initiative is new, innovative and “I’m just pleased with the opportunity.”
“They are a not-for-profit organization of Americans, who believe in reform and have spent some time and money to access all 50 ballots,” explained Roemer. “That hasn’t been done in my lifetime – Ross Perot came close – but their goal is to be on all 50 ballots, have a candidate selected by an online voting procedure that has not been used in Americans politics before.”
Reports have surfaced that there have been difficulties pertaining to the system, such as the security because it does not have paper ballots to link the votes, but Roemer remains optimistic regarding the security’s sophistication.
Roemer is one of 29 candidates, including former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson (see Digital Journal’s interview here), and there are numerous draft candidates, including Texas Congressman Ron Paul, former Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman and Independent Senator Bernie Sanders.
With only a week until the first round of online caucuses are held, Roemer leads the field with 4,738 supporters compared to Anderson’s 2,887 (at the time of this writing). Activist Michaelene Risley is in third place with 1,869 supporters.
When asked what makes him a better candidate than the former mayor, Roemer responded, “I’ll let someone else to decide.” He added: “Has he ever been elected to the congress? Has he ever served as governor? I mean, he has no experience whatsoever. He seems like a decent guy, but has he ever executed a reform, taken a corrupt place and turned it around? I don’t think Salt Lake City qualifies.
“Mayor of the 125th largest town in the country; it’s not what I would call a preamble to be president, but he seems decent [and] I like the fact he limits the money and those are very important things.”
In terms of who his running mate would be or possible cabinet officials in a Roemer administration, the former governor said he has an idea but will not disclose who the person(s) is at this time.
Buddy Roemer 2012
Former Governor Buddy Roemer talks to the media in New Hampshire before the first primary in the United States in 2012.
Since Roemer was in Wisconsin at the time of the interview, Digital Journal asked for his opinion on the latest controversy that has captured headlines across the country between Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and the unions.
Roemer explained that he opposes for much of what the unions stand for, such as guaranteed contracts, no layoffs when their job is not being done and public employees given the right to strike, such as police officers and school teachers. He noted that they have the right to be heard and the obligation to participate.
“I don’t know about the details, but I like controversy. I like participation, unions should be involved, but so should small business people, so should college students. It’s a representative democracy,” stated Roemer. “It’s not a two-party monopoly, it’s a representative democracy and people have just gotten lazy and spectators. This is not a spectator sport. It’s called building a country. Your views will not be heard so unions ought to be involved.”
He added that he doesn’t care if you’re pro-union or anti-union; he just wants the people to participate. “What I do care is that 99 percent of Americans don’t give a penny to their politicians, and the only time they participate is on Election Day. That’s not good enough.”
“When their kids are at stake and their jobs are at stake, they ought to be active as they can’t afford not to be. They would receive benefit and dividends from participating and it doesn’t require you to become a politician,” said Roemer.
“When the issue is important, when the nation is at stake, stand up!”
Buddy Roemer 2012
Former Governor Buddy Roemer delivering a stump speech on the campaign trail.
Foreign policy debate
Since the one-year anniversary of the death of Osama bin Laden, the United States’ foreign policy has been given a second look and questioned. Roemer feels the country does have a foreign policy, and it’s strictly oil-driven. “It’s the monster in the room.”
President Barack Obama, according to Roemer, had nothing to do with getting bin Laden because it was not a tough decision and has become strictly a political game. Instead, Roemer believes the nation “should be embarrassed with what we do.”
“We send marines on police duty; we send marines on oil duty. It should be stopped,” Roemer emphatically iterated. “We should quit giving cash foreign aid. We are a nation in trouble. We should lead by example. There are a dozen things we should do and the prime example of our withering foreign policy that is perturbed: military force, that’s all we’re about.”
Another issue he has trouble with is the government’s addiction to foreign credit and weakness towards China. Roemer, who has visited China many times, painted a picture of the economic powerhouse, such as its factories, which he says, would be shut down in the U.S. “and yet we take those goods in this country like we’re so faithful.”
“Our trade with China is an issue, but you wouldn’t know it in this campaign.”
If Roemer was involved in the fall debates between the president and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney, he would bring this issue up as well as the money. “Start with the money because the money owns the room. And then you would describe it without the money owning Washington.”
What would be some of the other issues he would talk about in a three-way presidential debate?
- Fair trade (not free trade).
- Small business deregulation.
- Energy independence: drill cleanly and safely, enhance energy relations between Canada and Mexico and reduce 50 percent of the nation’s carbon footprint.
- Tax reform: no loopholes, no exceptions and 17 percent corporate tax rate.
- Five-year balanced budget plan: cut spending by one percent of GDP that would be $151 billion per year.
“You would talk about all of these issues, but you would start with campaign reform that is the issue that would change America and allow a president to lead,” explicated Roemer. He further added that the president has done nothing, even though he has tried.
According to Roemer, Obama’s healthcare plan was a debacle because it didn’t permit insurance companies to compete, it did not consist of Tort reform, it did not require pharmaceutical companies to have a price discount nor allow drugs to come in from Canada.
“It’s these kind of money control matters that give me anguish because I think America is in trouble and nobody is free enough to untangle this mess and that’s what I will talk about in the debates,” espoused Roemer. “What five steps to take to create jobs and make America strong and it starts with campaign reform.”
Hearing the message
During the 1992 and 1996 presidential elections, Ross Perot, and others like Ron Paul more recently, forewarned the U.S. that it was about to be slammed with a fiscal tsunami, but most people dismissed the multi-billionaire’s words of caution. So how would Roemer get his message heard?
Roemer feels the world has changed because social media has become much more important and technology is more developed and easier to access. Roemer’s campaign has remained active, while other mainstream politicos’ campaigns, like former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Governor Rick Perry, crashed and burned.
“Do I have an easy answer to take it all the way? It starts by trying to get on the debate. If you can get onto the debate then you have a chance and that’s what we’re trying to do by choosing Americans Elect,” said Roemer. “I think it’s time to throw heat, stand tall and be free to lead and that’s what this debate will be about. The debate will be about the future of our country, not about winning another frickin’ election.”
When November comes around, Roemer sees the following electoral situation: 30 percent of hardcore Republicans supporting Romney, 30 percent of hardcore Democrats supporting Obama and 40 percent will be “anxious, concerned, don’t like either one of them very much, not in love with American politics run by the money machine and willing to look in another direction.
“That’s my goal: 40 percent on Election Day, it’s wide open and there for the taking.”