A presidential candidate visiting New Jersey at this point in an election cycle is usually looking for money, like Mitt Romney will be doing in Parsippanny on Monday.
Why former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer requested to meet the Bayshore Tea Party Group yesterday remains a mystery. If he wanted money, he never asked for it. He touted the fact that he won’t accept donations over $100, and that his average donation is $55, but he never asked. He boasted that he’s raised “a third of a million dollars.”
Asked why he was spending a Saturday in December in New Jersey rather than Iowa or New Hamsphire, Roemer responded, “I’m not in Iowa because it costs $2 million to compete there and I don’t have $2 million. I am in New Hampshire. A lot of people are going to be surprised by my showing in New Hampshire.”
Roemer’s conservative yet populist message would seem to be a perfect fit for the Tea Party crowd. But Roemer clearly wasn’t prepared to be questioned by the group of 20 Tea Party members who are obviously as well informed as they are passionate. He got himself in trouble with the group while embracing the Occupy Wall Street slogan of 1% vs 99% while decrying the influence of money in the presidential campaign. A debate ensued which devolved into bickering over whether or not corporations are people. A Tea Partier arguing that corporations are shareholders, employees and customers. Roemer arguing that a corporation has never been drafted into the military.
No one born after 1957 has been drafted into the military either.
Roemer eventually backed off the 1% vs. 99% slogan, apologizing for “using the language of the day” to make a point.
Roemer said he was competing for the GOP nomination, while acknowledging that he has been in touch with Americans Elect 2012 about a third party candidacy. That didn’t sit well with his audience either, who were concerned about a third party candidate helping President Obama get reelected and about Americans Elect’s funding from special interests. Roemer acknowledged that he hadn’t vetted Americans Elect prior to allowing his name to be attached to the group.
The former governor and congressman was particularly critical of Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman, decrying the special interests funding their campaigns. He said Huntsman’s father is using legal loopholes to funnel $20 million to his son’s campaign. Roemer really doesn’t like Gingrich, with whom he served in Congress.
“There is no president amongst the current GOP front runners,” Roemer declared. There wasn’t a president at the Bayshore Tea Party Group office either.
At that’s too bad. There is a great deal about Roemer’s core message that is attractive.
He favors a flat tax; 17% of all income for all, individuals and corporations, over the first $50,000 earned. When asked about the fair tax, a national sales tax, Roemer said he could go that way too.
Roemer said he’s a fair trader, not a free trader. He would use tariffs and economic sanctions to bring balance to our relationships with China and Saudi Arabia. Tariffs on all oil importers, except Mexico and Canada, as well as the end of subsidies for unproven energy technologies, would be the keys to creating energy independence in a Roemer administration.
On foreign policy, Roemer said American should not be the world’s policeman. That he would emphasize economic sanctions to advance our interests, but would keep a strong military in the background. He was absolute that he would not allow Iran to have nuclear weapons.