Moral Low Ground

US Government

Meet Buddy Roemer, the GOP Presidential Candidate the Corporate Media Don’t Want You to Meet

Former Louisiana governor and four-term U.S. congressman Buddy Roemer is running for president. But you’d never know that from watching the GOP debates. Roemer is on this Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary ballot but again, you’d never know that from watching mainstream media coverage of the nomination race. Roemer is even polling ahead of Rick Perry and is tied with Rick Santorum in one major New Hampshire poll, yet he was excluded from this weekend’s two debates.

Meet Buddy Roemer, the GOP presidential candidate the corporate media don’t want you to meet.

He refuses to accept campaign donations of more than $100. He rejects all donations from political action committees (PACs). Campaign finance is central to his candidacy. He has even endorsed the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement.

He should be allowed the same access to the political discourse as all the other GOP candidates, but he is not.

Roemer was born in 1943 in Shreveport. He attended Harvard, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in economics and an MBA in finance. He was Louisiana’s governor from 1988 to 1992. Elected as a Democrat, Roemer switched parties in the middle of his term after becoming disillusioned with his party’s big-spending ways and the monopoly on power the Democrats wielded in the Pelican State. Before becoming governor, Roemer represented the Shreveport region in the northwestern corner of the state for four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives during 1980s, when he often supported President Reagan’s policy initiatives. Nobody’s perfect.

Friday, Roemer sat down with Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez to discuss his candidacy, the critical issues facing America today and his exclusion from the GOP debates. Here’s video of the complete interview, with excerpts below:

Roemer: “I think the nation is in decline, long term. We’ve lost a million-and-a-half jobs net in this country compared to when Bill Clinton was president. Long term, we have unsustainable trade imbalances. Long term, we have a debt we can’t repay. Long term, we’ve lost three out of four manufacturing jobs because of unfair trade treaties. I think this nation is in trouble. The corporations have made more money in the last 18 months than any time in the history of America.

So what’s the disconnect? A president gets elected, and he says he wants change. But he takes all his money from these same corporations who don’t want change. Special interests control Washington. I’ve been there. I’m the only person running that spent eight years as a congressman and spent four years as governor of a state, turning unemployment around.

We—the issue in this campaign, the key to turning America around, is not budget reform. We need it. Tax reform, we need it. Trade reform, we need it. Immigration reform, we need it. Bank reform, we need it. Healthcare reform, we need it. But the key is to take the lobbyist out of the room and let plain people get in there and turn this country around. That’s what I proposed. It’s not complicated. It’s not difficult.

It’s the way I always run for office. And I usually win, if I can get my message to the people. I’ve been shut out of the debates. My message has not reached the people. We can do better, America. Kick the lobbyist out of the room.”

Gonzalez: “Governor Roemer, why do you think your message has not been allowed to get out by the various media companies who have controlled these debates?”

Roemer:  “There’s a different criterion or a different criterion at every debate. We call and ask. First, you had to be an official candidate for president. I thought that was fair. I announced at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire in August. We called for the next debate. They said, “Well, you have to have 1 percent in a national poll.” We worked four weeks. We made 1 percent. I called again. They said, “Oh, you have to have 2 percent now, Governor.” We made 2 percent. I called again three debates ago, and they said, “Well, you had to raise a half-a-million dollars in the last 90 days.” We had raised $256,000. No check over $100. Average gift: $51. All 50 states participating, from California to Maine. And they said, “Well, you need to raise half-a-million.”

Is that the standard to elect our president? Is that what we’re doing in America now? Look, I’m not perfect in anything, and I don’t know everything. But I have been a congressman. I have been a governor. I have built a billion-dollar bank, with no bailout money, profitable. I have built jobs. I know what to do. And I can’t even get in the debate. It is amazing to me.”

Gonzalez: “Could you talk about that and why you see a positive role for the Occupy movement in American politics?”

Roemer: “I believe they smell what’s wrong with America: corruption at the top. I mean, Wall Street and Washington, D.C., are connected at the pocketbook. Come on, guys. I mean, we did healthcare reform. I’m a diabetic. We need to do healthcare reform. But here’s what President Obama did: he called the pharmaceutical companies, he called the tort lawyers, he called the lobbyists, he called the lawyers, he called the hospitals. There were no doctors, there were no patients, there were no nurses. That’s where you start with healthcare reform.

Look, Washington is run for the money. And wherever the money is—ethanol subsidies, subsidies to huge oil companies, loopholes where General Electric can build a plant in China, sell the product back in America, and deduct the expense in China, while they close down American plants. It’s not right. It’s not healthy. It’s not fair.

I’m a capitalist. I mean, I went to Harvard and studied economics. I got my master’s degree from the Harvard Business School in banking and finance. I build companies. I’ve built a nice, profitable bank. I believe in capitalism. But I also believe in fair play. I believe in a speed limit on the highway. And I think America is bought and sold by the big companies and the special interests.”

Goodman:  “I just wanted to talk about the polls. They’re very interesting. You have seen significant gains in New Hampshire’s latest polls, Governor Roemer. In the 7NEWS/Suffolk University poll, which ended December 13th, Roemer’s 2 percent helped him pass Rick Perry, tie Rick Santorum, landed him just a percentage point behind Michele Bachmann, who’s now pulled out. Your support doubled from the previous poll. And yet, you’re not in.”

Roemer:  “In the 21st century, if you’re not in the debates, you’re not a candidate. You should go with me sometime into a room full of 30 or 40 people to hear a presidential candidate. And they like what I say, and they join hands with me. But the first question they ask me is, “I didn’t know you were running, Buddy. I’ve never seen you in a debate.”

Look, America is controlled by who they allow in the debate. Maybe my ideas on fair trade, maybe my ideas on immigration reform, maybe my ideas on tax reform might add something to the debate. And like I said, I’m the only person running who’s been a congressman and a governor and recognized as both. I can’t even get to first base. I’m running a race with my feet tied. It’s amazing.”

Roemer’s “Goldman Friggin’ Sachs” campaign ad:

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