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Wednesday, 26 January 2011 19:31

A Louisiana Governor's Run For President

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  John Maginnis--Louisiana  Politics By now, we should take Gov. Bobby Jindal at his word that he is not running for president in 2012. His frequent excursions around the country to campaign for Republican candidates, to sell his book and to raise money for himself could be explained as part of a future grand plan for 2016 or beyond. For now, as he says often, he has the job he wants and he's only running for re-election. Got it.

   That doesn't mean there won't be a candidate for president next year who was elected governor of Louisiana. Buddy Roemer hasn't ruled it out.


   For the record:  "It certainly interests me," the state's 52nd governor recently told LaPolitics Weekly. "I am making no announcement. I am not running today. It will take months to work out if it happens. I don't want to scare anyone."

   Actually, mirth, not fear, is the more common reaction among those who have heard of his considered ambition.

   The notion that a 67-year-old, twice-divorced ex-politician, who last won an election a quarter century ago, whose stormy administration and mid-life crisis led to his losing his next race to both Edwin Edwards and David Duke and then another election after that, is going to organize and fund a serious bid for the Republican presidential nomination against a wide field of better-known, better-funded contenders with better electoral track records is, OK, good for a laugh.

   What's not so funny, for Republican strategists and officials, is the absence of a standout in the aforementioned wide, not deep, field of prospects. Sarah Palin, no doubt, is hot, probably too hot, or polarizing, to be nominated. Next in line are the retreads--Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich--who could be strong national candidates but haven't proven so in the past. Then there is the long line of wannabes now or recently in office--Tim Pawlenty, Haley Barbour, John Thune and more--who might or might not be ready for prime time.

   It figures to be some crowded stages at the nationally televised candidate forums in the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary early next year. The initial and formidable challenge for Roemer would be to get onstage with them. But, from there, distinguishing himself from the rest might not be as hard.

   For starters, Roemer is not new to this game or far from it. In 2008, he was a key surrogate for candidate John McCain. He both spoke for the Arizona senator at campaign events in some big swing states and was in on top-level strategy sessions.

   Were Roemer to speak for himself, his message could be his method. He believes the time has come for a different approach from "the professional corruption in politics" caused by how presidential candidates raise money. By encouraging influential players to raise and bundle contributions from others, blocks of donations starting at $25,000 are increasingly common in both parties.

   In 2008, he argued unsuccessfully for the GOP candidate to commit to limiting individual contributions to $100 apiece. McCain didn't think it could work; Roemer still thinks it might.

   Relying on the Internet, as did candidate Barack Obama, one million contributions of $100 would bring in $100 million. Trouble is, that used to be a lot of money in presidential campaigns, before Obama, observing the legal limits, raised $133 million in the first quarter of 2008, and a half billion more by November.

   Even if his idea catches on, it's questionable if Roemer could get his scheme rolling fast enough to raise enough to be competitive in the front-loaded primary schedule.

   But if he could do so, he would have something to separate himself from the rest onstage. Having real independence in the White House "won't happen unless we remove the Goldman Sachs yoke around the president," he said.

   A Republican bank president railing against Goldman Sachs will get a few chuckles, but Roemer would try to position himself closer to Main Street than Wall Street.

   Whether or not his populist message resonates with Republicans, or even if he'll try, is hard to tell. Yet, he has shown that when he strikes a chord, he has the music to move voters.

   Buddy Roemer doesn't want to scare anyone, not yet. But if the year ahead gets good and crazy, a reasonable assumption, who's to say he won't?

by John Maginnis.  read more of Maginnis at

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