Former Gov. Buddy Roemer
Announcement of Exploratory Committee
Business First Bank
Baton Rouge, LA
March 3, 2011

Today I announce the official formation of our exploratory committee for the presidential race to be decided in the fall of 2012.  I'm going to challenge the current system of money in politics from day one by setting a voluntary limit on contributions of $100 per individual.  I will accept not one penny more.  I will accept no PAC money, no organization money.  It will be the citizens of America who run this race, and who elect the next president.

I think our system has become institutionally corrupt.  I'm not talking about a person; I'm talking about the system.  Washington, DC is a boomtown, and the rest of America is hurting.  Why is that?  Washington, DC is a fundraiser every night, and it's an auction during the day for retiring congressmen.  Institutionally corrupt.  I think the voice of the people are being drownded by the money—special interest money, all-I-want-is-access money, bundled money, campaign money, deficit money, debt money, Wall Street money, insurance money, pharmaceutical companies' money—you know it.  On and on and on.  Where are the people?

Look at two bills.  And it's what got me started.  The health care bill, where there was no tort reform.  We're worried about the cost of health care in America—not its quality—and there's no tort reform in the bill?  What did that cost the tort lawyers?  Look at health care reform.  There's no requirement on the pharmaceutical companies to discount their sales to large users like Medicare and Medicaid.  Look at the health care bill.  There was absolutely no competitive reason, or no reason at all for these large groups like insurance for example, who are not allowed—  You're not allowed as a user of insurance to go across the state line to get that care.  Wow.  What kind of protection is that?  How much did that cost the American taxpayer?

Then look at the second bill, the financial reform bill, where we're supposed to prevent the next financial crisis in America.  Who did they give a free ride to?  Wall Street.  Big banks; the 19 banks that got bailed out—too big to fail, the government said.  Guess what?  They're bigger now.  Nothing changes when the money of a status quo and special interests run Washington.  Nothing changes. 

I'm going to ask America in this exploration and beyond to take a look at a better way.  To step up family by family, person by person, and let's take back a representative democracy. 

Today I declare my declaration of independence from the money interests.  I'm going to cast my lot with people just like me who work for a living, make a payroll, build small businesses.  I'm going to ask us to take the country back.  I'm not the key in this campaign.  You are.

I cannot do this alone.  I'm a reformer by nature.  Those of you who know me know that's true.  I ran for governor of this great state when I had no chance to win—no—and ran against the biggest money machine you ever saw.  A governor who got on "60 Minutes" and bragged about selling offices for money and keeping it in his campaign or elsewhere.  We ran with limits, we ran with taking money only from this state, we ran with less money than anybody in the race, and the people lifted us over the line. 

I'm a reformer, and reforming is hard.  It doesn't make you popular.  You tell the school teachers you have to be tested—that you get paid on merit pay, not tenure.  That doesn't make you popular, but it's right for the kids.  You balance the budget when it's been out of balance three out of the last four years; you balance it four years in a row.  You take the worst rated bonds in America—we were ranked 50th; we were actually behind Guam.  I'm not putting Guam down, but we were behind Guam.  We got three bond ratings in the first three years; no state in America did that. 

I'm not a smooth politician; I'm a reformer.  I love America.  I think our promise is yet ahead of us.  But I think if we're owned by a few, the many will never be heard. 

Exploratory committee.  I have a lot of work to do.  I've been out of politics for 20 years—my choice after the people decided when I lost my re-election in a tough campaign against two tough politicians.  But I like what we did.  I wouldn't change a thing as governor.  We made so much progress.  It's just not popular to make the tough decision.  And it might be true about the next leader. 

Tough decisions.  But I know this—I want a president free to lead.  I want a president free to make us energy independent in this decade.  I want a president to make us free from Chinese money that owns our debt.  They're our competitor.  I want a president free to honor small businesses and the fact that they create jobs in America.  I want a president to commit to a balanced budget within five years and attack this debt.  I want a president free to not have to check with the labor unions or the chamber of commerce or any big company on Wall Street, but listen to the American people.  They'll tell you, Mr. President, we want work.  We want to compete.  We want to do better.  We want to protect our children and our grandchildren.  And we are tired of selling our country to a few. 

It's been a long time since I've been in politics directly.  I've helped others.  My kids have been involved, and I honor all of them.  But I came to the age of 67 where I thought I was old enough to know what needs to be done and young enough to get it done.  So I'm going to walk across America figuratively and literally on occasion, and listen to its people.

Thank you.          

Date:      Thursday, March 3, 2011
Time:      1:30 P.M. CST / 2:30 P.M. EST
Location: Business First Bank
                8440 Jefferson Highway
                2nd Floor Executive Conference Room
                Baton Rouge, Louisiana  70809