“My ideas are different. I talk about money, and its corrupting influence in politics. I talk about special interests, which do bank and healthcare reform but don’t talk about nation reform. And I talk about unfair trade, because I don’t think you can create jobs in America in the 21st century unless you get a level playing field. These are my issues and nobody else talks about them. I need a debate to get known what I feel about those things.”
– Former Governor Buddy Roemer on why he should be in tonight’s debate
An edited transcript of our discussion with Republican presidential candidate and former Governor of Louisiana, Buddy Roemer is below:
Chip Lebovitz: The guidelines for Wednesday night’s debate are that a candidate must have polled at four percent in a national poll since November 2010. Are those fair? Especially given the fact that candidates like Jon Huntsman and Newt Gingrich are averaging roughly 2 percent in the polls.
Buddy Roemer: Well it is arbitrary. No doubt about it. You know it; I know it. It could be higher; it could be lower; or it could be another test entirely. It could be activity in the primaries. If a candidate declares, is he active? Does he debate with other candidates? Does he meet in forums? Does he go town-to-town? There could be a determination of the veracity of a campaign. But they’re all arbitrary. I’m not overly anxious about it. I need a debate; there’s no question about it.
My ideas are different. I talk about money, and its corrupting influence in politics. I talk about special interests, which do bank and healthcare reform but don’t talk about nation reform. And I talk about unfair trade, because I don’t think you can create jobs in America in the 21st century unless you get a level playing field. These are my issues and nobody else talks about them. I need a debate to get known what I feel about those things.
Now, they don’t let me in, but I am growing. Depending on the poll, I’m at one percent and occasionally at two. I was once at three, and four weeks ago I was at zero. I am patient. This is marathon. The election is not tomorrow. I see candidates rise and fall weekly – I’m not into that. I’m into issue development, and I’m concentrating in New Hampshire. We’re building a precinct-by-precinct organization; it’s like I were running for Governor of New Hampshire. We have limited funds – One hundred dollars is my limit. We have to spend them wisely and well. We have money in the bank. Last week was my best campaign fundraising week – about 35,000, which is about one ticket to an Obama fundraiser (laughs). The debates are very important to me to get known after being 20 years out of politics. I am irritated (laughs) that I haven’t been asked, but I am patient.
Chip Lebovitz: David Weigel of Slate has argued that you and other similar candidates like Gary Johnson and Thaddeus McCotter suffer from this negative feedback loop. You aren’t in the debates because you don’t have the requisite support but don’t have the support because you lack the name recognition that comes with being in the debates. How do you break out of that cycle, in time for the September 22nd Fox News debate?
Buddy Roemer: I’m 67, so I have some experience at building banks, campaigns, and ideas. The tried-and-true method I’ve always enjoyed is persistence, patience, focus, and it will happen. Anytime I get a crowd, I do well. I went to the Tea Party Express in New Hampshire – I was the only candidate at all three forums, and I had a crowd, and I received such a terrific response. I must be opportunistic, flexible in my approach, but persistent. I work every day at this. I believe it will happen.