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MSNBC "The Rachel Maddow Show" - Transcript

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Joining us tonight for the interview is Republican presidential candidate and former governor of Louisiana, Buddy Roemer.

Mr. Roemer, thank you for coming on the show. It`s nice to see you again.

ROEMER: Thanks, Rachel. Good to be back.

MADDOW: Did you and Tim Pawlenty bond backstage while he and I were having --

ROEMER: He`s coming after you, Rachel.

MADDOW: Yes. Well, we`ll see.

ROEMER: Do not be afraid.

MADDOW: You know? I`m not.


MADDOW: All right. I do not know how to run for president obviously. So caveat emptor.

ROEMER: Me either.

MADDOW: Well, the Connecticut for Lieberman Party doesn`t seem like your ticket at the top. This is not a big --


ROEMER: Well, it was an idea. The idea is that maybe what America needs is not a party, but a country built from the center.

And maybe men and women with different backgrounds, but the same belief in America, could join a unity party and pull this country together. I think we`re in trouble. I think we`re headed in the wrong direction.

Look at the debt. Look at the lack of jobs. Look at the lack of diversity.

Look at the difference between the top 1 percent and the bottom 95. You saw the "Union Leader." They won`t take Mitt Romney because he represents the top 1 percent. So what do they get? They got the lobbyist for the top 1 percent.

They really got some distance. We`re in trouble, Rachel. And it`s not just my party. Both parties are together in one thing. They will take any check from any place to get re-elected. It`s not right and it`s not
healthy, Rachel.

MADDOW: You have been running, as I said, I don`t mean to belittle your candidacy this way. I mean it as a compliment. You have been running on a strong single issue candidate, trying to get this issue of money and politics into at least the discussion in this campaign. But it`s not happening.

ROEMER: No debates. I haven`t been on a single debate.

You say I have 1 percent or 2 percent in the polls -- 2 percent has been my tops last week. One out of 50 Americans. You know how many Americans know I`m running, less than 10 percent. I mean, I can`t get on
the debate.

Would you think if you and I started a year ago, would you think a man who has been a four-time elected congressman, who`s been elected a governor, who`s built a billion dollar bank with the help of others but no
help from the federal government, a successful businessman. Do you think a man who talks about a leader that needs to be free -- do you think he would get on a debate?

I have not been asked to a single debate. I have been a Republican for 20 years. I tried to build my party or help build it in Louisiana. I`m proud of my record, but I cannot get on a debate when others who have
no political experience at all -- I mean, there`s a pizza guy on the debate. Not to put Herman Cain down.

But my God, you are running for president, should some experience count? You know what they don`t want to hear, Rachel? They don`t want to hear about the money. Neither party does -- Republicans, particularly.

The only ones asked are the ones that raise a lot of money in the last 90 days. Do you know that was a criterion for the last debate? Did you raise $500,000 in the last 90 days? Is that the way you pick a president, Rachel?

MADDOW: When I think about your effort and who you are talking to and the different constituencies you have chosen to address with the different things you have done, what I`m wondering is whether you think there is an audience among conservative voters who make up the electorate for GOP primary, whether conservatives want to hear about money and politics or --

ROEMER: We don`t.

MADDOW: You don`t know.

ROEMER: You don`t know, Rachel.

MADDOW: Of all the Republican candidates, all of the big candidates, all have dark money behind hem. All of them.

ROEMER: all of them.

MADDOW: Not a peep from the voters about this.

ROEMER: Not a peep, because no one has raised the issue. It`s a catch-22. Unless you walk in the room and say there`s a fire here, nobody knows the room`s burning. They just know there are a million and half
fewer jobs than there were 12 years ago. They know we`re one of the lowest countries in the industrial world with the difference between those at the top and those at the bottom.

They know we`re in trouble, but they are not sure where to look. The room`s on fire.

I`m looking at Americans Elect, a unity group outside of the Republican Party who would go right to independents and Republicans and liberals and conservatives who put their country first. I plan on
announcing as a candidate for that ticket. I`m a Republican, but I`m a prouder American.

I`ll stay in the Republican primary and do all I can, but I need a stage to talk about what`s really wrong with America, Rachel. And what`s wrong is this -- a big check gets first in line and everybody else is
forgotten. It`s not right.

MADDOW: Are you staying in this no matter what happens? How long can you stay in?

ROEMER: I`m going as far as I can. I have gotten contributions from 50 states. I have raised a quarter million dollars at $60 the average gift. I`m free.

If I can get an audience, we`ll see if this is an election issue. It ought to be.

MADDOW: Former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer -- thank you for being here. If I put you on the spot with Governor Pawlenty backstage, I apologize for any personal front. But it`s really nice to have you back
here, sir. I hope to see you again soon. Thanks.

ROEMER: Glad to be here.


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