For newly announced Republican presidential candidate Buddy Roemer, the hardest thing about being in New Hampshire is the lack of a Waffle House.
“That’s one of the most difficult things coming to New Hampshire. I don’t find any Waffle Houses,” Roemer told The Daily Caller in an interview following his announcement Thursday that he was officially entering the race for the White House.
Roemer, a regular of the Waffle House in his native Louisiana, the state which he represented as a Democratic congressman and later as a Republican governor, has relocated to New Hampshire full time in order to campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.
His platform is twofold. First, he wants to focus on creating jobs by deregulating small businesses, making the country energy independent and cutting back on unfair foreign trade.
Second, he wants to eradicate the power of special interest money in Washington. Accordingly, he is refusing to accept money from any political action committee, and he has limited the amount of money supporters can donate to $100 a person.
“I kept waiting for somebody else to talk about it, and nobody else mentioned these things,” Roemer explained, when asked why he had decided to formally announce his candidacy after the exploratory phase. “They act like the money comes in envelopes at the post office. And they act like trade with China is fair. It’s not. And I’m gonna talk about it. And I decided that my best chance for an audience is to run for president.”
His self-imposed limit on the money he will take has cramped his fundraising ability. In the second quarter, he raised just over $40,000. Roemer chalks this up in large part to the lack of attention his candidacy has received from the media. (Bachmann campaign fires omnibus broadside at Pawlenty)
“I just wasn’t getting any publicity,” Roemer said. “I mean, I wasn’t getting on any shows. It was like, it’s like I was being ignored. It was like I was a third tier candidate.”
Roemer was also not permitted to participate in the two Republican presidential primary debates thus far, owing to his low poll numbers — he has yet to get one percent of the vote in any national poll. Instead, he posted videos on YouTube of him answering each of the debate questions.
Now, however, Roemer is determined to take his campaign to new heights.
“After careful thought, I hired a campaign manager about two weeks ago, and we decided to come to New Hampshire … full time,” he said. “And the publicity that we got announcing that got us back to people’s attention, and the money started coming in again. You know, I’m never gonna be a big fundraiser. I never have been in any of my races. But it builds.”
Roemer plans to make a stand in New Hampshire, and then move on to South Carolina and Florida.
“I’m surprisingly strong in South Carolina,” he said, adding “I think they like my accent.”
But Roemer has been out of politics for 16 years now, and his challenge is to regain name recognition with his limited funds.
“I need name recognition. So we were going to keep doing, as we did last night, community town hall meetings. We’re gonna try to do two a day,” said Roemer, outlining his campaigning strategy. “We’re gonna try to do a breakfast and try to do a dinner. We’ll do picnics. We’ll do Republican meetings in city hall.”
On the issue of the moment, the debt ceiling, Roemer says it must be raised, but not without conditions.
“I would accept a one percent reduction in spending as a sign of good faith,” he said. “I mean as a banker I can assure you that we’ve gotta honor our debt obligations. I don’t think August 2nd is the magic date, but we have to do this. But I would not do it unless the president gave me a multiyear plan to reduce spending.”
But the way the negotiations are being handled right now, he says, is not cutting it.
“Right now, Washington looks like a circus to this banker, with the budget guys, who I call clowns, negotiating over pennies,” he said.
Though certainly an underdog, Roemer is completely undeterred by the odds.
“This race,” he said, “is wide open, and people are legitimately and honestly looking for somebody they can depend on. I hope that’s me.”