By Rick Klein
Former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer, one of only two Republicans to have formed a presidential exploratory committee for 2012, is espousing a policy position that may not go over so well with conservative voters: He wants every state to decide for itself whether to allow gay marriage.
"I'm a traditionalist. I believe marriage is between a man and a woman," Roemer told us on ABC's "Top Line" today. "I don't think it's the right thing to do. But there's an even bigger issue guys -- it's how is the debate conducted: state by state."
"Each state has a right to determine how it defines a marriage. I'm a Methodist boy. Our church believes that a marriage is between a man and a woman. And I'm not trying to put anybody down. That's what I believe with my heart and soul. Nothing has changed on that."
Roemer, who switched party affiliations from Democrat to Republican during his single term of governor of Louisiana, from 1988-1992, said he intends to use that political history to his benefit in the 2012 GOP primaries.
"I'm gonna be myself. I'm the only governor in the history of America who changed parties while he was in office. I served two years as a conservative Democrat and two years as a Republican. And I've been a proud Republican ever since. Now, I love the Tea Party and thank God for what they've done in this country."
Roemer is also highlighting his promise to only accept donations of $100 or less.
"I will not be owned by the special interests or the lobbyists. That's my issue. You know what you need as president, you need a person who is free to lead. Our president is not free. He has no foreign policy. He hadn't even read his own budget. I guarantee it."
"Let me give you a number," he continued. "If I were to get one out of a hundred -- one out of a hundred -- that's 3 million Americans at $100 each, that's $300 million. That's more that's more than Mitt Romney spent three years ago to try to buy the presidency."
Roemer also vowed to participate in the GOP debates that start this spring.
"I expect to be invited. I'm going to be a factor in this campaign," he said. "I think the next president of the United States will be a governor, a former governor. I'm the only guy running who's been a governor and a congressman. I'm the only guy running who's been a governor, a Congressman, and built a bank with his own two hands from zero to two-thirds of a billion dollars in size. And we didn't take one penny of bailout money. Let me say it again, not one penny."