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Former Governor’s Role With John McCain

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BUDDY ROEMER AND PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS

Buddy Roemer has been out of the limelight for the past seventeen years, once he stepped down as Louisiana’s Governor in 1991. But with Senator John McCain wrapping up the Republican presidential nomination, Roemer finds himself back in the catbird’s seat as a major player on the national scene.

Roemer signed on with the McCain team over a year ago when the Arizona senator was just one of many in the pack. He was on my radio show six months ago touting McCain’s credentials when his campaign seemed to be in freefall. But Roemer has emerged as a key McCain adviser, and has been featured in TV spots nationwide. Roemer has always been a gambler. When he was governor, his campaign disclosure statements regularly showed winnings at poker games held at the Governor’s mansion. And Roemer has never been averred to playing a long shot, even his own campaigns. He fought uphill races to get elected to Congress in the 1980s, and was in the rear of the pack in governor’s race when the campaign began back in 1987.

While Louisiana Senator David Vitter crashed and burned in supporting the quixotic presidential campaign of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Roemer quietly began lining up support and raising campaign funds for McCain. If the Republican candidate is successful in the coming fall presidential election, Roemer could well emerge as a cabinet secretary, ambassador, or hold another high post in a McCain administration.When George Bush was elected president in 2000, Roemer was under serious consideration to be Ambassador to China. He used to play tennis with the former President Bush, and stayed in touch with a cross-section of Republicans throughout the country.

After getting out of elected politics, Roemer has been involved in several successful bank ventures. But the lure of public service is still there. If John McCain becomes the next president, the odds are pretty good that a former Governor of Louisiana will be heading to Washiongton, DC.

So if John McCain has the Republican presidential nomination locked up, who’s it going to be for the Democrats? Obama or Clinton? For those who think Obama has an almost unstoppable momentum and is well on way to acquiring the Democratic nomination, you might want to take a second look.

To those of us who are amateur demographers, several trends catch our eye. Have you noticed how Obama wins those states where race percentages lean heavily one way or another? He wins big in Iowa and Maine, virtually all-white, as well as states like Virginia, Georgia, South Carolina and Louisiana, with heavy black populations. Yet in states where the demographics are more reflective of the country as a whole, Clinton holds commanding leads. Look at California, Michigan, New York and Florida.

Clinton also does better in the bigger states, and of course, receives more delegates. Obviously, it’s imperative that she show tremendous strength in upcoming primaries of Texas and Ohio.There is also a trend in how Obama finishes. In a number of states, Obama held a commanding lead five days before the primary. But as Election Day closed in, the gap with Clinton narrowed. A number of voters decided to take a second look. Obama’s message of change has obviously been effective. Many voters are frustrated, angry, and want to take the country in a different direction. Ronald Reagan rode the same surge in 1980, as did John Kennedy in 1960. And the message has been effective against Hillary Clinton who keeps talking about all her experience. A lot of voters think experience has not gotten us all that far up to now, and are taken by the inspiring rhetoric Obama espouses so well on the campaign trail. It’s poetry versus prose.

And of course, race is factor. To those who feel it is important to make a statement that they will vote across racial lines, Obama looks to be the perfect candidate. It is kind of like the people who feel they need to have a gay friend, so they look for the guy who played “Will” on Will and Grace.

If Obama wins the Democratic nomination, how does he match up against McCain? Republicans are not known for offering innovative ideas, and McCain is 71 years old. And he has all that baggage with lots of Rush Limbaugh-led opposition from a core group of right-wing nabobs of negativism.

Don’t sell McCain short. He is in the process of offering olive branches to conservatives who really have no place else to go. McCain has been a maverick for years, working with a number of Democrats that should have a lot of appeal with independent voters. He’s a war hero, tortured and suffered almost 6 years in a North Vietnamese prison camp. There is just a comfort level with McCain that could well appeal to and sway undecided voters and even lightly committed Obama voters just before Election Day in November.

Any number of scenarios can play out in the coming eight months. Buddy Roemer probably should not start packing his bags quite yet. But at the end of each day, he probably reminisces over his days in Washington as a congressman. He might well be back again in an even more important capacity. Stay tuned.

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“Half of the American people never read a newspaper. Half never voted for president. One hopes it is the same half.”

– Gore Vidal

 

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