Last Modified: Monday, August 20, 2012 7:48 PM
That Charles Elson “Buddy” Roemer III came up short — well, didn’t register a lick — in the 2012 presidential race may say more about the system and the voters than it did the candidate.
At best, Roemer was the longest of long shots. Two decades removed from high public office, he was but a faint memory even in his own state of Louisiana, where he had served as governor. When he imposed contribution limits to his own campaign -- a hundred bucks per voter -- he precluded many of those who might have been drawn to his candidacy from helping in a significant way. The Iowa caucus results surely convinced him of how uphill his battle was: He drew but 17 votes, trailing “no preference.” Ouch.
Although Roemer trailed by miles in popular support, his was nonetheless an interesting campaign. America has elected far less experienced leaders — the incumbent, for starters — and few candidates could match Roemer for unbridled intensity.
Ivy League educated, Roemer, a banker, served four terms in Congress and a single term as governor. He earned Louisiana’s gratitude by “slaying the dragon” — that fire breather was Edwin Edwards, who was making his first attempt at a fourth term — and Roemer derailed Edwards’ train. But Roemer’s own governorship rolled off track rather quickly, and he left office in 1992 as damaged goods and with the reputation of a flake.
The Roemer presidential quest ended on May 31, and if Roemer had regrets, he did not say. Credit Roemer with some resourcefulness; he opened his quest as a Republican, but after he was shut out of the televised debates, he resurfaced as a Reform Party hopeful. Alas, even the Reform Party had no room for Roemer; in New Jersey, he lost by a mile to a fitness bodybuilder named Andre Barnett. As late as April, Roemer was seeking support from the Modern Whig Party.
No matter the outcome, Roemer’s presidential motives were probably pure. He railed against the danger of big money in campaigns, then demonstrated the folly of campaigning with little money. He decried the political system that denied him a platform within the Republican Party, then wandered a political desert outside the major parties.
In Lake Charles last week for a luncheon, his message was familiar: contribution limits, full disclosure for candidates. So was the passion, as he fairly boiled over when referring to U.S.-China trade and the American tax system.
What he wanted, he said, was a president who was “free to lead” our country without the chains of campaign debt and influential backers. Who doesn’t want that?
“Let’s take our country back,” he exhorted the packed room. Why argue?
This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Ken Stickney, Jim Beam, Dennis Spears, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.