Roemer leaves GOP to seek Americans Elect, Reform Party nominations

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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Former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer ended his quixotic bid for the Republican presidential nomination Thursday, announcing that he would run as an independent and attempt to secure the nominations of Americans Elect and the Reform Party.

Speaking from the headquarters of the video live stream website Yowie in Santa Monica, Calif. — a place he described as “a lot like Louisiana, just not as much fun… the weather’s good, but you know, they don’t know Mardi Gras here. … Everybody’s a little sophisticated and either untight, or very uptight” — Roemer announced his new plan, and spoke to The Daily Caller afterward.

Roemer’s biggest problem, he explained, was not being allowed to participate in any one of the debates.

“I’m not trying to put the Republican Party down, but you cannot run for president and be shut out of all 23 national televised debates,” Roemer explained.

“I mean you get one percent in the polls, and they say it needs to be two percent; and you get two percent, and they say you need to raise a half a million dollars,” Roemer went on.

“So, being shut out of 23 debates, for a reason, they never would tell me why, but for a reason — I decided that the issue was more important than the party,” he said.

That issue, for Roemer, is taking on what he sees as the corrupting influence of money in politics. He has run his campaign with that philosophy, refusing to accept donations for PACs or super PACs, and only taking individual donations of $100 or less. He believes that special interests use money to get what they want — whether it’s money to pay lobbyists or campaign donations — and the resulting legislation, therefore, reflects their desires, not what’s best for the country. Washington, he says, is “not broken, it’s bought.”

Winning the Americans Elect nomination, he believes, would give him the megaphone he needs to take those issues to a national audience. (RELATED: Full coverage of the Buddy Roemer campaign)

“The rules of the general election debate … say quite clearly: if you get 15 percent of the vote nationally in the polls, then you have to be included in the general election debates. So it would be Romney, Obama and Roemer, and we would talk about something they don’t want to talk about: we would talk about the money that owns them. We would talk about the Wall Street banks. We would talk about the multinational companies like GE. We would talk about the corruption of the American system,” Roemer said.

The philosophy of Americans Elect dovetails nicely with Roemer’s platform. It is a bipartisan group that is working to secure a position on the ballot in all 50 states. After that, it will serve as nothing more than a platform to allow a third party candidate to run without having to waste all of his or her resources on securing ballot access; it provides no platform, no money, no campaign network and its only stipulation is that the resulting ticket — to be voted for in an online primary — features a president and vice president of different parties.

As of yet, Roemer said he was undecided on who his ideal running mate would be. Several months ago, he suggested Sen. Joe Lieberman (who politely declined in a statement), and his campaign told TheDC Erskine Bowles, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Harvard professor Dr. Lawrence Lessig were also names that had come up.

He said Tuesday that he wants someone who “shares my values … who has been elected to office and has that experience, I’d like someone who’s been a governor or someone who has that sort of CEO experience, and I’d like someone who puts America ahead of their party. … I wish I could get an Abraham Lincoln or Teddy Roosevelt… or a Ronald Reagan or a Dwight Eisenhower.”

It’s no guarantee that Roemer gets the nomination, but he plans to devote the next few months to an all-out effort. He’ll run the campaign out of his home office in Baton Rouge, La., but he plans to travel to all 50 states to give speeches and do “listening tours.”

“We’ve got an army, a small army of supporters, who are Democrats and Republicans — we got as many contributions from Democrats as we have Republicans. We’ll take votes from both parties,” Roemer said.

“We’re trying to build a coalition with the Reform Party and other parties who are interested in this issue. And we will put a team together of independents, Republicans, Democrats, Reform Partiers, Occupy Wall Street-ers, tea partiers,” he went on. Roemer has been a vocal supporter of the Occupy Wall Street movement, even going to speak at Occupy sites.

“Look, the polls are clear. The fastest growing element in America is the independents. They are better than a third of the vote. They’re very unhappy with the promises Obama made and didn’t deliver. They see Mitt Romney as a one-percenter candidate. They see Newt Gingrich as a lobbyist for the once percent, and they’re not happy with either party,” he said. “The Republican Party is ranked less than the Democratic Party, but neither are in good standing. There’s something happening in America, here’s what it is: I think America’s sick and tired of being bought and sold on TV commercials and there’s no truth in the election. We’re gonna try and change that.”

His biggest challenge, he said, will be “getting known.” After a career in Congress and as the governor of Louisiana, he left politics and spent the next two decades in the primary sector, so at this point, “Buddy Roemer is not a household name.” He even felt the need to spell out his last name when directing this reporter to his website, buddyroemer.com.

He plans to use a combination of advertising, social media and earned media to get the word out.

“But look, I want to raise two or 300 million dollars,” he said. “You say, ‘well how do you do that Buddy? You don’t take PAC money, you don’t take super PAC money, you don’t take big checks, you don’t lobbyist money.’ Here’s what I take: $100 or less from clean plain people,” Roemer concluded. “And if I can get a million, or 2 million, or 3 million people to give me a hundred dollars, that’s $300 million of clean money, and we’ll advertise, and we’ll run in every state, and we will turn this election upside down.”

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