MSNBC "The Rachel Maddow Show" - Transcript

Interview

By:  Buddy Roemer III
Date: Sept. 6, 2011
Location: Bossier, LA

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MADDOW: I have been so looking forward to this.

Joining us tonight for the interview is Republican presidential candidate and former governor of Louisiana, Buddy Roemer. He`s not one of the eight candidates expected to be on stage tomorrow night for the NBC
New/"Politico" debate, but we are very happy to have him with us on this stage tonight.

Governor, I can`t tell you how happy I am to have you here.

BUDDY ROEMER (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Me too, I`m honored to be here.

MADDOW: I want to ask you the big obvious question and you can tell me if you think it`s rude and tell me if you don`t want to answer.

ROEMER: All right.

MADDOW: Jon Huntsman nationwide is polling at 1 percent, 1 percent, 1 percent when he`s lucky. How did he get this blessing as a candidate to be taken seriously as a contender with numbers like that and you did not get that same blessing?

ROEMER: I had the same number, slightly better, 1 percent and 2 percent over the last two weeks. I don`t know the answer.

My suspicion is it might have to do with money and my approach to it. I could be wrong, Rachel. I`ve been out of politics for 20 years. I`ve been a happy man in Louisiana building a small bank about $1 billion worth.
We help jobs get created out in the real world, that`s what I do, I`m a jobs guy, not a lawyer, not a politician.

But I`m the only guy running who was a congressman and a governor. And I know this business, and I`m concerned about America, so I entered four weeks ago. I have slowly crept up to my 1 percent and 2 percent.

I will add to that over time, but here`s my difference, $100 limit, no PAC money, no super PAC money, and I fully disclose every penny that I collect.

I`ve had all 50 states participate, Guam and Puerto Rico, I don`t know what`s wrong with those guys, but they are helping me. So, I am building.

I will get on a debate, Rachel. It will happen. My issues are jobs and the corruptive power of big money in campaigns. Those are my two issues.

No one else talks about it, no one else cares about it. I want a president with passion about jobs, and that`s what I expect from Mr. Obama the day after tomorrow. That`s what I`m looking for. Not a specific plan,
but I want passion for jobs.

This country`s in trouble. I don`t see it in the Republican Party. I don`t see it in the presidency. I`m concerned, that`s why I`m running.

MADDOW: After 20 years or so out of politics, why jump back in at the presidential level? Why try to get back into politics without national name recognition, without a national base?

ROEMER: That`s a good question, and I never really thought of it that way. And maybe the game passed me by. It used to be that I built my political career, and I served in the constitutional convention, I wrote a
Constitution with the help of others, Congress for four terms, and governor, that I would build it slowly over time on the issues. I`m an issues wonk, I like it. I like how to improve the country.

I have found since I`ve come back in the last couple of months, and I`ve been doing this for about seven months, exploratory, and now running, that the pace has picked up. I like that, I`m getting up to speed in that. But it`s so television-oriented.

Rachel, it used to be -- I won the governor`s race in Louisiana with no PAC money, with a limit. I spent $1 million, the guy that I beat spend $16 million, but I did it with newspaper support, newspapers were so
important then. They are less important now.

So, I`m learning kind of the new game, and that`s why I`ve slowly begun to build. I`m in New Hampshire. I rest my case in New Hampshire, it`s like I`m running for governor there. My limited funds will also be
spent there.

I mean, if I can get 1 million people to give me $10, I`ll spend it in New Hampshire. We`ll win the Republican nomination and revolutionize politics in this country.

It`s all about the money. It`s about the big checks and special interests, Rachel, and it`s Democrat and Republican. I see no difference.

MADDOW: And on the issue of campaign finance -- I mean, we have seen a gradual change over the course of a generation until the last couple of years where that gradual change has gone off a cliff.

ROEMER: Yes.

MADDOW: Five Supreme Court decisions that have dismantled the meager campaign finance laws that we had. Are you, and is anybody, structurally incapable of making a campaign finance case at the national level, because by definition, you can`t raise the money to make the case against big money?

ROEMER: We`ll see. It`s a dilemma.

I mean, I would have a rule that lobbyists registered with the federal government could not give a check to a candidate. I would have a rule that you`d have a 48-hour reporting period, not 90 or 150 days, Rachel. Let`s know where the money`s coming from.

I would have a rule that PACs could give no more than individuals, whatever the limit is, $1,000, $2,500.

I would have a rule there`d be no super PACs.

I would have a rule that there would be criminal penalties for violation of these rules that does not abrogate the close Supreme Court vote 5-4 that money is speech.

As a conservative I believe money is speech. But you can`t yell fire in a crowded theater incorrectly. There can be broad limits and I think the Supreme Court has said it. Now, one final point. Conservatives like myself have argued for full disclosure, sun light. Liberals, like yourself, often argue for limits on
giving. Right now, we have neither. We have the worst of both worlds.

We have Mitt Romney taking $1 million check in a super PAC and not disclosing it to anybody until forced to. We have campaign chiefs of staff, in Mr. Obama`s case and in several other candidates` case, who are
running the so-called independent PACs. I mean, it is -- it is morally wrong in my mind and hurtful to the American politics.

OK, if we have no limits, let`s have full disclosure. Now we have neither.

MADDOW: I would say, sir, that whether or not you have a chance of winning the nomination of the structural constraints you are under, the fact that you are running has you on places like "The Daily Show" and this show and other shows across the country talking about this and embarrassing everybody else who will engage on the subject. And for that, I congratulate.

ROEMER: I`m a proud Republican, but I`m a prouder American. This is about America, Rachel. Something`s wrong in our system, and it`s special interest money.

Unfair trade with China, I love to talk about it all day. Now, that`s a jobs program the president ought to stand for. He ought to protect American jobs. I`d support him if he did. Nobody else is doing it.

MADDOW: Buddy Roemer, Republican presidential candidate, former governor of Louisiana -- sir, will you come back during this campaign?

ROEMER: Absolutely.

MADDOW: Thank you. It`s great to have you here.

ROEMER: Thanks, Rachel. Good to see you.

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