Former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt,” airing this weekend, that one of the leading Republican presidential rivals, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, may be too tied up with special interests.
(This is not a legal transcript. Bloomberg LP cannot guarantee its accuracy.)
AL HUNT: We have a Republican 2012 candidate with us in the studio, former member of Congress and Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer. Governor, thank you for being with us.
BUDDY ROEMER: Glad you had me, man. Good to be here.
HUNT: You are a Republican candidate for president. You don’t register in the polls. You’ve barely raised $250,000. You’ve been excluded from all the debates, including the one that we hosted.
ROEMER: I blame you personally. Keep going.
HUNT: Are you a frivolous candidate?
ROEMER: Not to me. I’m the only candidate who addresses corruption. And when I look at Washington from long distance, being a former member of Congress, being a governor, I think our politics is bought, rented, leased. I think - here’s what I think. I think a person with a big check gets first in line and a person with a good idea barely makes the news.
HUNT: OK. You make a compelling case, but with the Supreme Court decisions isn’t that insidious influence of money only going to get worse? And there’s nothing we can do about it.
ROEMER: There’s a lot we can do about it. The Supreme Court was very clear. They said corruption and the appearance of corruption was the greatest threat to democracy. They said Congress could limit direct contributions and require full disclosure. They said on contributions that were independent of a candidate there could be no limit.
The super PACs are not independent, Al. They’re breaking the law of the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United right now. They are breaking the law. Mitt Romney had million-dollar checks from a company that was created to give him that and then disbanded a week later. Rick Perry has seven super PACs. Barack Obama has three. It is illegal.
Now one of the things a president can do, Al, a president can lead. He can require that we have full disclosure. He can require that we have 48-hour reporting, not 120-day reporting. He can require that PACs give no more than individuals. He can ask Congress to support him with criminal penalties. He can ask that registered lobbyists not be fundraisers. This is what a president can do.
HUNT: Let me ask you. You have said that you admire one of your opponents, Ron Paul.
ROEMER: I do.
HUNT: What do you think of Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich?
ROEMER: Not as much as Ron Paul.
HUNT: Do you admire Gingrich and Romney? Do you think they’re qualified to be president?
ROEMER: I think they’re decent people, but Newt Gingrich is a lobbyist writ large and Mitt Romney has never had the experience of being in Washington. He’s half a leader. You need balance. What you need is a person free to lead, Al. I’m telling you, I’m looking for your vote. Because you know these candidates. They’re decent people, but they’re not free. They’re taking big checks, big special interests. They’re not free to do what America needs.
HUNT: Governor Roemer, thank you so much for being with us.
ROEMER: Thanks, Al.
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