Roementum: Catch It

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 6 2012 12:52 PM

Roementum: Catch It

BENNINGTON, N.H. -- A man can only leap into a blob of HD cameras so many times before he needs to flee southern New Hampshire. Late this morning I drove the Franklin Pierce Highway, a far-too-pleasant tribute to one of the worst men ever to occupy the White House, to catch Buddy Roemer at the headquarters of Turbo Cam. Thirty employees used their lunch break to meet the highest-polling candidate who's never made it into a televised debate.

My HipstaPrint 0

Watch Roemer on the trail and you can't figure out why he's so obscure. (Who could have looked at the 2008 debates, watched Duncan Hunter and Tom Tancredo get their at-bats, and figure there'd be standards this year.) He moseys around a spacious break room, giving a few minutes to every employee, calling everyone "man." As in "Congress is charged with with signing trade deals. Negotiating so they're fair -- that's my job, man!"

Roemer's issues haven't changed since he entered the race last year. "I believe in fair trade," he tells the company's VP, Rob Bujeaud. "Free trade doesn't exist." The tax system needs to be replaced. "Flat tax! Clean! No lobbyin'!'" He's actually quite good and direct at framing the debt as a matter of national manhood.

"France sold the Louisiana purchase to pay off debts," he tells Dean Koufos, a lathe operator. "They lost their foothold in the New World. Debt shrinks a nation! We're already shrinking -- you can feel it! The space program! We're gettin' out of space!"

Every Roemer sentence ends with an explanation point. He takes the floor and boasts about how far he's gotten in New Hampshire. "They took a poll, and I was ahead of Rick Perry and three other guys. I said, yessss!" He pumps his fist. "I haven't spend a penny. They've spent millions! I like this campaign where every month there's a new leader. Michele Bachmann! Real nice lady. Rick Perry. Couldn't be beat! Seems like a real nice guy. And now -- I'm leavin' 'em out."

"Newt Gingrich," suggests one employee.

"Oh yes, Newt!"

"Herman Cain!"

"Herman Cain! Now it's Rick Santorum! It'll pass. They don't have a president! There's nobody running who doesn't have a PAC. There's nobody who's free to lead!"

The exclamation points are interspersed with admissions of human weakness. Making a point about health care, he pulls back his blazer and reveals a tracking device. "I've been insulin dependent for 40 years. I understand health care." He bemoans how stupid the presidential field has become. "I go home and cry some nights. It's just tough."

Talk like this -- actually, being a candidate like this -- tends to draw friendly questions. An employee asks Roemer if he'll make the Saturday evening debate, because the collapsing Perry doesn't fulfill the qualifications, and Michele Bachmann had dropped out.

"I sent 'em a picture of myself. I said, 5'8'' with shoes on. I'll fit right close to anyone who drops out. Haven't heard back."

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 



Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

The Government Is Giving Millions of Dollars in Electric-Car Subsidies to the Wrong Drivers

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Cheez-Its. Ritz. Triscuits.

Why all cracker names sound alike.

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059

Medical Examiner

Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?  

A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.

The Afghan Town With a Legitimately Good Tourism Pitch

A Futurama Writer on How the Vietnam War Shaped the Series

  News & Politics
Sept. 21 2014 11:34 PM People’s Climate March in Photos Hundreds of thousands of marchers took to the streets of NYC in the largest climate rally in history.
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 21 2014 1:15 PM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 5  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Time Heist."
Sept. 21 2014 9:00 PM Attractive People Being Funny While Doing Amusing and Sometimes Romantic Things Don’t dismiss it. Friends was a truly great show.
Future Tense
Sept. 21 2014 11:38 PM “Welcome to the War of Tomorrow” How Futurama’s writers depicted asymmetrical warfare.
  Health & Science
The Good Word
Sept. 21 2014 11:44 PM Does This Name Make Me Sound High-Fat? Why it just seems so right to call a cracker “Cheez-It.”
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.