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Fighting for Campaign Finance Reform, Buddy Roemer Jumps into 2012 Race

March 2, 2011 - 6:00pm

Former Gov. Charles Buddy Roemer of Louisiana on Thursday launched an exploratory committee for a run at the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.

"Today I am announcing the formation of a presidential exploratory committee, said Roemer. I felt compelled to explore a potential candidacy for president of the United States because I've never been more concerned about the future of our representative democracy. Our national debt is swallowing the promise of America, wrongly impacting our foreign policy, and robbing a generation of Americans of jobs and opportunity.

Roemer, who is 67, was elected to the U.S. House in 1980 as a Democrat before running for governor in 1987. During his term, Roemer jumped over to the Republicans but lost out in his bid for a second term. Roemer backed Democrat Edwin Edwards over the Republican who bested him in the primary -- former state Rep. David Duke, who had been affiliated with the Ku Klux Klan.

During his term, Roemer backed campaign finance reform, an issue he intends to highlight on the campaign trail. He refers to himself -- as he will throughout any campaign he might have -- as a seasoned warrior against the special interest money.

Taking a page from Jerry Browns bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1992, Roemer said he would not accept any contributions of more than $100 and would not accept PAC money.

Washington, D.C., is not up to the task of leadership because it too has become indebted indebted to special interest money, said Roemer. At a time of national recession, Washington, D.C., never had it so good. Money has washed over it like a tsunami and drowned the voice of the people.

"Electability should not be discussed in terms of who can raise the most money, but rather who has the best ideas to raise America. We can reform American politics and here is my pledge to help us start: I will accept only contributions up to $100 per individual contributor. No PAC or special interest money will be accepted. Only individual contributions with a name and an address, and all will be reported, although not required under the current law. Today, I declare my independence from moneyed special interests.

The former Louisiana governor, who has been serving as both president and CEO of Business First Bank in Baton Rouge, stressed the importance of campaign finance in his announcement, insisting that the issue extends into many of the challenges facing the nation.

"Special interest money has taken control of the key policy issues facing our nation, said Roemer. It is time to be brutally honest. If we pass a health care bill that does not address frivolous medical lawsuits, fails to make insurance companies compete or provide real choice to our citizens, has someone bought too much access? If we pass a financial reform bill that does not tackle too big to fail, harmful derivatives that shifts the risks of Wall Street's gambles to Main Street taxpayers, or fix the problems at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, have we really addressed the causes of our financial system's collapse? If we brag about cutting spending, while we fear touching entitlements for fear of special interest retribution, can we really put America's financial house back in order?

We have traded access in the political system for guaranteed special interest outcomes, continued Roemer. This must stop. Name a problem or an opportunity tax reform, spending discipline, jobs creation, Wall Street bailout, defense appropriations and then follow the money and reveal its tentacles. Our political system, our decision-makers are indebted to all the wrong things -- access money, fund-raiser money, special interest money, bundled money, protection money -- all of it corrupt and all of it making real change just a nice tag line in a speech.

Roemer pointed to his experience in Louisiana -- and insisted that his background in the private and public sectors helped prepare him to serve in the White House.

"I saw what special interest money can do to the voice of the people when I was governor of Louisiana, and I have the political and personal scars to prove I am not afraid to challenge politics as usual, said Roemer. I love America, but I detest what special interest money has done to American politics. To fix the financial crisis threatening our nation will require real leadership. I am the only person considering running for president who has been a congressman, a governor, a member of both parties, and a small-business owner. I appreciate the enormity of what we face, but I am not afraid of the fight.

Besides calling for campaign finance reform in his announcement, Roemer touched on other issues, backing a simplified federal tax code and more energy exploration in the U.S., hoping for complete independence from foreign oil by 2020. Roemer also said he backed reducing spending in all federal departments and cracking down on illegal immigration.

Roemer is the second Republican to announce that he was forming an exploratory committee. Tea party favorite and conservative radio host Herman Cain, the former CEO of Godfathers Pizza, has already formed one. Other potential candidates include former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana, former Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, former Gov. George Pataki of New York, former Gov. Bob Riley of Alabama and former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton.

Reach Kevin Derby at or at (850) 727-0859.

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