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Then There Were ... Still Four: Buddy Roemer Leaves GOP Presidential Race

Buddy Roemer announces an exploratory committee for a 2012 White House bid last March in Baton Rouge, La. On Wednesday, he announced that he would drop his GOP candidacy to seek third party avenues.
Gerald Herbert
Buddy Roemer announces an exploratory committee for a 2012 White House bid last March in Baton Rouge, La. On Wednesday, he announced that he would drop his GOP candidacy to seek third party avenues.

Former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer seems to have finally hit on how to get noticed in his bid for the Republican presidential nomination: drop out of the race.

Or, more specifically, redouble his efforts to get to the White House by switching to the nascent "Americans Elect" movement while at the same time seeking the nomination of the Reform Party.

Roemer has struggled to be taken seriously by the Republican establishment, get access to the all-important televised debates, or get the media coverage that comes with both. But Roemer's announcement Wednesday was widely reported.

Roemer had been overshadowed since announcing last summer that he would seek the Republican nomination, joining what was — at the time — already a crowded field.

In that July announcement, Roemer distinguished himself by declaring that he would take no personal campaign contribution exceeding $100 and would not accept political action committee money of any kind. In a campaign that has increasingly illustrated the power of money in politics, that stance may have doomed Roemer's chances in the GOP.

As of Jan. 31, Roemer's campaign had raised $389,234, less than Fred Karger, Thad McCotter, Gary Johnson — and much less than every current and former candidate with higher name recognition. (By way of comparison, Mitt Romney has raised more than $62 million, while President Obama has raised nearly $137 million. And that doesn't include money from superPACS supporting them.)

In a statement Wednesday, Roemer said:

"Tomorrow, I will formally end my bid for the GOP nomination for president of the United States. As the GOP and the networks host debate number twenty-something this evening, they have once again turned their backs on the democratic process by choosing to exclude a former governor and congressman. I have decided to take my campaign directly to the American people by declaring my candidacy for Americans Elect. Also, after many discussions with The Reform Party, I am excited to announce my intentions of seeking their nomination. It is time to heal our nation and build a coalition of Americans who are fed up with the status quo and the partisan gridlock that infects Washington. Together, we will take on the special-interests that control our leaders and end the corruptive influence of money in politics so we can focus on America's top priority – jobs."

Roemer served four terms in Congress as a Democrat from Louisiana in the 1980s, was elected Louisiana governor in 1988, and switched parties to Republican during his only gubernatorial term before losing in an open primary.

And what of Roemer's prospects now? On Sunday, Nola.com noted:

"Let it be recorded that at 3:05 p.m. EST on Feb. 16, mock conservative commentator Stephen Colbert passed Buddy Roemer — the former congressman, governor of Louisiana and bona fide presidential candidate — as the sixth-most popular 'draft candidate' of Americans Elect, the nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that is hoping to place a presidential candidate, chosen by its online electorate, on the ballot in all 50 states in the fall. But Colbert's rise, and the anemic participation to date in drafting a candidate, raise the question of just how seriously to take Americans Elect.

"With tens of millions of dollars in donations from mostly unidentified backers, the organization promises it will gain ballot access in every state for a cross-partisan ticket. But so far, the 'draft candidate' with far and away the most support is Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, a candidate for president who has indicated he doesn't plan on going the third-party route. Paul has a little more than 2,000 supporters, still far short of the 5,000 supporters in each of 10 states needed to qualify for the Americans Elect competition (though, the rules allow that 'candidates with a similar level of experience as past presidents need only 1,000 supporters in each of 10 different states')."

An avid Tweeter noted for his wit, Roemer's candidacy was profiled in detail (for Roemer, anyway) last month by Marin Cogan in the GQ politics blog. The post is titled Buddy Roemer for President: Pro-Life, Anti-Big Money, Pro-Awesome.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Greg Henderson