Former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer (R) won’t be endorsing the Republican presidential nominee if that person turns out to be Newt Gingrich.
Roemer, who is making his own presidential bid, said he isn’t thinking about future endorsements, but that he couldn’t stomach Gingrich’s views on campaign finance reform — Roemer’s signature issue.
Despite serving as a member of the House in the 1980s and later as Louisiana’s governor, Roemer has failed to gain traction in his presidential run, and has been unable to qualify for the televised debates that provide widespread exposure.
Roemer said that every time he has met the qualifications to appear in a debate, the debate hosts have changed the rules to preclude his participation. Told at first he needed to garner 1 percent in a major poll, he pulled that off successfully, only to be told it had been changed to 2 percent. When he hit 2 percent, he was told the new threshold was a half-million dollars raised in a three-month period.
“I’ve got no clue,” he said of the reason he has faced such opposition to participating in the debates.
It’s no surprise that raising money has been a particular challenge for Roemer: Eager to clean up the role of money in politics, he’s set a $100 maximum contribution for his campaign and rejects all funds from political action committees and outside groups.
Roemer, who speaks in the gently chiding manner of a well-intentioned but persistent father, recalled being told by former House Speaker Tip O’Neill (D-Mass.) that he was the only member of Congress not to take PAC money.
But the keenest interest granted to Roemer’s presidential ambitions has involved reports that he will pursue a third-party run with the help of Americans Elect, a group that works to help candidates compete outside the two-party system.
Roemer said veteran GOP strategist Mark McKinnon, who also advised his gubernatorial campaign, suggested he meet with Americans Elect.
That would never have been necessary, Roemer said, “if I would have been given a chance in the last 14 debates to make my case to the American people.”
-- This story was updated at 4:53 p.m.