Shut Out by GOP, Roemer Tries New Path

Shut Out by GOP, Roemer Tries New Path

By Scott Conroy - February 24, 2012

His complaints about being excluded from the Republican presidential nominating process are made in earnest, but Buddy Roemer doesn't take himself too seriously.

Unable to secure an invitation to any of the GOP debates, the former governor and congressman has instead harnessed social media as a mini-platform, often taking to Twitter to play the role of candidate-turned-amateur-comedian as his opponents have battled it out on stage.

“Don’t anger the sweater vest. It doesn’t like to be challenged,” Roemer tweeted in reference to Rick Santorum’s distinctive sartorial emblem during Wednesday night’s debate in Arizona, adding in a later tweet, “Perry is in the audience. (The clown car needed a driver.)”

His Twitter musings have garnered some interest, but the Louisianan has found it impossible to get noticed by a wide enough audience to have any impact on the race, and so he is changing course.

On Wednesday, Roemer announced that he is dropping his bid for the Republican nomination -- a move that initially served as little more than a reminder that he had, in fact, been running.

But despite failing to crack 1,000 votes in New Hampshire -- the state where he had been living for months and had vowed to make his stand through vigorous retail politicking – he is not ready to call it quits.

Roemer, 68, is now seeking the nomination of Americans Elect -- a well-funded independent group aiming to provide ballot access in all 50 states for a bipartisan presidential ticket that will be nominated in an online convention this summer.

Despite being serious about highlighting the influence of money in politics -- Roemer’s pet issue -- he’s keeping a lighthearted approach to his pursuit of the nation’s highest office.

“I deny everything,” was Roemer’s playful greeting as he began a phone interview with RCP on Thursday. “Isn’t that the way good politicians always start?”

Throughout the interview, Roemer sounded every bit the “good politician,” something he has rarely been able to show himself to be in front of a national TV audience.

With nearly Clintonian charm, he noted how “funny” it was that the qualifications for appearing in Republican debates kept changing so that the forum was always just a hair’s breadth out of his reach.

But despite the lighthearted tone, Roemer’s indignation over the nature of the presidential process was palpable.

“I couldn’t get my party to address the issue of money and politics,” he said. “We’ve got a system now where there are no limits, [and] there’s no disclosure. We have the worst of both worlds, and I could not get my party to address it.”

In one sense, Americans Elect seems an ideal staging ground for Roemer’s apparently principled -- if perhaps impractical -- third-party bid, in which he is continuing his commitment to limit individual donations to his campaign to $100.

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Scott Conroy is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @RealClearScott.

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