Former Gov. Buddy Roemer, who's been making noises for months about running for president, made it official July 21 in a speech at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, the state with the first presidential primary in the country (scheduled for Feb. 14, 2012). In a statement preceding the announcement, Roemer wrote, "No longer can I stand on the sidelines of destruction in the making and witness our great nation and its great citizens suffer. I take up this call to serve, not for notoriety or egotism, but for the future generations that will inherit President [Barack] Obama's mistakes."
Roemer was one of the first Republicans to form a presidential bid exploratory committee, and he's already rented an apartment in Manchester, N.H., where he plans to live for a few months while working the hustings around the Granite State.
By all accounts, it's going to be an uphill battle for the former governor and congressman, who has drawn notice nationally, mostly for foreswearing large campaign checks and putting a $100 cap on contributions by individuals. The legal limit is $2,500 for individual contributions to a particular candidate.
According to a filing with the Federal Election Commission, the Roemer 2012 Exploratory Committee had taken in $60,560 in individual contributions through June 30, with an additional $25,100 kicked in by Roemer himself. It's a molehill of money compared to that of the two leading candidates, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. In the same time period, Romney had collected more than $18 million in individual contributions, while Bachmann's kitty was nearly $6 million.
TV face time has also been a challenge for Roemer. He was excluded from the first two major GOP debates, starting with the one held by Fox News in Greenville, S.C., on May 5. (The network said participants had to have at least 1 percent of the votes in at least one of several national polls; Roemer hasn't been able to crack that ceiling yet.) In response, Roemer has been staging "ghost debates" with himself where he answers the questions in real time on Web streaming video, later posting the results on YouTube.
Being excluded from the debates is a sore spot that flared up last week when word leaked that the Roemer campaign had stopped payment on a $25,000 check that was a filing fee for the South Carolina presidential primary. In an email to Politico, though, Carlos Sierra, Roemer's new campaign director, defended the check cancellation and doubled down, calling Fox News debate officials "little jerks."
"It was not a check for the filing fee, it was the fee to participate in the Fox News sponsored debate on May 5th," Sierra wrote. "The little jerks at Fox News did not allow the governor to participate. Mind you, Buddy Roemer is a former Congressman and Governor." (In a subsequent email, Sierra corrected himself, saying that it was indeed a filing fee, and the campaign intended to send a new check at a later date.)
Roemer was also Mr. Cellophane in a survey of likely voters conducted July 15-17 by Public Policy Polling, which didn't include outlier Roemer in its survey of five hypothetical presidential matchups between GOP candidates and Obama. But Roemer seemed sanguine about it in a July 20 interview with the Associated Press. "No one knows me," he said. "I accept that joy." — Kevin Allman