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Today Thomas Friedman in the New York Times called for
Michael Bloomberg to mount an independent Presidential
challenge to "give our two party system the shock it needs":
... neither party... is talking... seriously about
the taxes that will have to be raised or the
entitlement spending that will have to be cut
to put us on sustainable footing, let alone
offering an inspired vision of American
renewal that might motivate such sacrifice.
The leading third party candidate for president, though, isn't
Michael Bloomberg, it's Buddy Roemer, who at the moment
holds the lead in the Americans Elects on-line primary.
Buddy Roemer didn't set out to be a third party candidate. He tried to
run for the Republican nomination, but a funny thing happened. The
party blocked him from taking part in the debates, virtually barring
him from running.
At first glance, it's difficult to see why the GOP would stop his
candidacy. He was as qualified as anyone in the race, having both
executive experience as Governor of Louisiana and national
experience as a multi-term member of the United States House
of Representatives. Many of the candidates allowed in barely showed
up in the polls at the time the decision was taken to keep him out of
the Iowa debates, so it couldn't have been his relatively low profile.
He is a fiscal conservative who believes in a strong defense, main
stream Republican positions. How could the Republicans let Herman
Cain, a pizza executive in, but keep Louisiana's former chief executive out?
I think the answer lies in Roemer's refusal to accept contributions
of larger than a $100 to his campaign. Many candidates talk about
campaign finance reform or keeping big business out of politics
but continue to deal with lobbyists and take money in any way they can.
Buddy Roemer not only talked the talk, he walked the walk.
His presence on the primary stage would have been a
living rebuke to every other candidate, except perhaps Ron
Paul, and most especially to Mitt Romney who financed his
campaign almost exclusively with contributions from the wealthy;
but it's not just Romney, he would have embarrassed all the
candidates and by extension his party by comparison. Of
course the Democrats can't really claim to be any better,
especially since President Obama decided to renege on
his vow not to allow a Super-Pac to be set up for him; but
still the Republicans, with their many corporate donors, must
have felt vulnerable on the issue and decided Buddy Roemer's
example was just too dangerous to allow him into the primaries.
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