The Republicans Are Hiding a Presidential Candidate in the Attic

Why is the GOP scared of Buddy Roemer?

After tens of millions of dollars spent and nine primaries and caucuses, the Republicans are no closer to settling on a candidate than when this race started almost a year ago. The campaign trail is littered with the high hopes of names big and not so big—Palin, Trump, Pawlenty, Cain, Christie, Huntsman, Perry. Some decided not to run, some were run out. Now there are five viable candidates.

What’s that? You only count four? What if I told you that there is a fifth viable candidate who the Republican party and the networks are hiding from you? He is a former governor, a former congressman, and a bank CEO who did not take any bailout money. So he has executive, legislative and business experience. He has qualified for federal matching funds, so the government has anointed him a viable candidate. Why aren’t we allowed to hear from him?

His name is Buddy Roemer, the former governor of Louisiana. On February 22nd, the Republicans will hold their 20th debate in Arizona and again Roemer is not invited. They keep changing the qualifying rules to keep Roemer out. To qualify for the Arizona debate, a candidate needs to get at least 7 percent in a recent national poll. It is a classic Catch-22. How does a candidate get 7 percent if he is kept out of every debate? It should be pointed out that CNN and the Republican party have made exceptions to their debate qualification rules in the past for Rick Perry and for Sarah Palin, just in case she wanted to show up.

In Iowa, before one of the debates, Roemer was told he didn’t qualify because his campaign didn’t raise enough money over the last few months. What?!? Since when is the amount of money you have raised a qualification to get on a debate floor? I thought the debates were the great equalizers between the haves and the have-nots, where ideas matter, not money. The rich irony here is that the central theme of Buddy Roemer’s campaign is getting obscene amounts of money out of the process. He will not accept money from lobbyists, from Super PACs or individual contributions more than $100. Roemer is an idealist, and there seems to be no place for one in the Republican party.

I first heard Roemer speak on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. He was quick, engaging and thoughtful. He also said that if he were allowed to debate, he would point out that the other candidates were bought and paid for. He would rail against the Super PACs that have corrupted the political campaigns. I don’t normally get involved with conspiracy theories, but it is not a big stretch to surmise Roemer is being kept out of the debates so he doesn’t derail the money train that feeds the candidates, the party and the TV networks.

This is far from an endorsement for Buddy Roemer. I need to hear a lot more from him. You deserve to hear a lot more from him. In a year when none of the candidates seem to be perfect, why are the networks and party bosses keeping a candidate from us? This is supposed to be our choice, not theirs.

This is an endorsement for fairness, an endorsement for democracy. There is a petition online to get Buddy Roemer on the stage at the February 22nd debate. If you believe the system has been corrupted by money, sign it. Buddy Roemer may not win, but at least someone on stage will finally talk about the billion-dollar elephant in the room.