Shoestring

By Marantz, Andrew | The New Yorker, February 13, 2012 | Go to article overview

Shoestring


Marantz, Andrew, The New Yorker


Last Tuesday, while Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney campaigned in Florida, Buddy Roemer walked toward Zuccotti Park. He carried a briefcase and wore a navy suit, a red tie, and loafers. The park had reverted to its pre-Occupy state--construction workers on stone benches eating sandwiches--but on the sidewalk a half-dozen protesters shouted, with varying degrees of coherence. One of them, a man holding a can labelled "Donations" in one hand and a cat in the other, asked Roemer what he was doing downtown. "I'm just here to listen, man," Roemer said, as he dropped coins into the can.

"And who are you?" the protester asked.

"I'm Buddy Roemer, and I'm running for President. I wish you'd keep an eye on me."

"Really?" the protester said. "Actually, I respect that."

Roemer, who is sixty-eight, has gray hair and a Southern accent. He was a four-term Democratic congressman from Shreveport, Louisiana, before being elected the state's governor; during his term, he switched parties to become a Republican. Like his former gubernatorial colleague Bill Clinton, Roemer is an extrovert, but he does have limits. After listening politely to another protester's disquisition on how the Rothschild family controls the international monetary supply, Roemer said, "I'm sorry, but I've got to get something to eat, man. I'm diabetic."

He repaired to a Wall Street brasserie for corned beef and cabbage. Behind him, a TV screen showed Herman Cain. Earlier, on the "Today" show, Cain, who had endorsed Gingrich, said he would also be "very comfortable" with a Romney candidacy.

"Romney is the one per cent, and Gingrich is his lobbyist," Roemer said. "And Herman's just looking for a job."

Roemer's campaign is monomaniacally focussed on campaign-finance reform. He does not accept donations larger than a hundred dollars. His budget is thirty thousand dollars a month, which is what Romney raises in ninety minutes. Roemer did not compete in South Carolina, because he could not afford the thirty-five-thousand-dollar filing fee, and he was not campaigning in Florida, because Party leaders had not included him on the ballot there.

Roemer finds a way to bring every discussion back to money. "The system isn't broken; it's corrupt," he said. "Obama, Bush, Clinton--all bought and owned by the banking industry. …

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