While the world waits to see if Newt Gingrich will finally end his 16-year tease and jump into the presidential fray, another GOP figure moves closer to making a decision to run for the GOP nomination.
Is it Huckabee? Or T-Paw? Or Mitt? Nope! It's actually Buddy Roemer, the former Governor of Louisiana -- best known for his 1991 party switch from Democrat to Republican and his subsequent inability to get more votes than David Duke in the '91 jungle gubernatorial primary.
Former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer (R) will announce Thursday he will explore a bid for president, according to a top Republican source.
Roemer is already scheduled to head to Waukee, Iowa, for a forum hosted by the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition on Monday. He will announce an exploratory committee on Thursday at the Baton Rouge bank he runs, according to WAFB-TV.
Okay, then! That's from today's Hotline On Call, which places the possible Roemer candidacy on firmer footing than it had previously been placed.
Roemer, who is currently the President of Baton Rouge's Business First Bank, had offhandedly suggested he was up for making a run for the presidency back in January. Over at the New Orleans Times-Picayune, a pair of columnists took the occasion to do a bit of tire-kicking:
Times-Picayune columnists James Gill and John Maginnis had slightly different takes on the issue last week. Both were skeptical.
Gill says: Certainly Roemer has all the smarts and all the ambition required.
When he first ran for governor, he emerged as quite the inspiring orator, although he has subsequently displayed a regrettable taste for the corn-pone homily. These days he just doesn't have Edwin Edwards' knack for inspiring devotion.
He had it in spades a quarter of a century ago, and seemed to have ushered Edwards off the stage for good. Now, if he's looking for a campaign song, he might consider "Still Crazy After All These Years."
Maginnis notes: The notion that a 67-year-old, twice-divorced ex-politician, who last won an election a quarter-century ago, whose stormy administration and midlife 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.
Roemer moved from representing Lousiana's 4th district in the House of Representatives to the Louisiana statehouse in 1988. At the time, he was a member of the Democratic party, and he came into office as a self-styled reformer, itching to reduce a budget deficit and enact fiscal reforms. With the GOP talking up austerity, this presents an opportune time for Roemer to make his case. A January 2011 item in the News Star has Roemer singing straight from the hymnal:
"As a banker, as a businessman, I thought I'd read President Obama's budget a couple of months ago. It was a mistake," he said. "He's got a deficit every single year, smaller ones at first but three-quarters of a trillion dollars in the third year. By the 10th year the deficit is $1.4 trillion and the deficits are higher in the out years."
With the GOP talking up anti-abortion measures, however, the sledding gets tougher:
In 1990, Roemer vetoed an anti-abortion bill authored by Democratic Senator Mike Cross and supported by Roemer's own choice for state Senate President, Allen Bares of Lafayette, as well as the influential Republican Senator Fritz Windhorst of Gretna. Roemer had chosen Bares as Senate president over Sydney B. Nelson of Shreveport, who had been politicking behind the scenes for months for the position. After two years, senators in a slap at Roemer, removed Bares from the position and returned previous president Sammy Nunez of Chalmette in St. Bernard Parish.
Roemer predicted that the Cross bill, which would have banned abortion in cases of incest, was incompatible with the United States Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade. The veto alienated large numbers of his socially conservative electoral base. The bill was then passed over Roemer's veto. In 1991, United States District Judge Adrian G. Duplantier of New Orleans, a former state senator, decreed that the measure was in conflict with Roe v. Wade, as Roemer had foreseen.
Still, Roemer isn't too fond of how the GOP field is shaping up, telling the News Star that he sees "little leadership" in the field, which in his mind is made up of people who are "'part of the problem' and [pay] more attention to special interests than the people who elected them."
At the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition forum on Monday, Roemer will share the stage with Gingrich, Pawlenty, Rick Santorum, and Herman Cain -- the latter candidate being one of the only people officially in the race so far, and one of the only ones with a longer shot at the nomination than Roemer.