THE STUMP DECEMBER 9, 2011
Well, when things seem glum for Jon Huntsman as he plods about New Hampshire, he can always take comfort in the fact that he isn't the other former governor wandering the Granite State on a truly long-shot bid for the nomination: Buddy Roemer. Check out Eli Saslow's fun profile in today's Washington Post, which, among other things, describes Roemer's approach to watching the GOP debates he's been excluded from as similar to your Cousin Joey's approach to watching football: putting on his uniform and screaming at the TV.
Buddy Roemer had prepared for the presidential debate with the same rigor as other candidates, dressing in a suit, resting his voice and reviewing likely questions with his aides. Ten minutes before the event was scheduled to begin, he stood up from the desk in his small hotel room in downtown Washington and turned on the TV.
“What channel is this thing on again?” he asked. “I don’t want to miss the first question.”
He had not been invited to actually partake in the debate, so Roemer had again come up with an alternative: to pace in front of CNN and shout answers at the screen while two aides sat barefoot on his bed and tweeted his responses. “Can we order some room service?” one of them asked. They turned up the volume as eight other candidates strolled across the stage, each one introduced to a standing ovation. Romney. Bachmann. Gingrich. Cain. Santorum. Perry. Paul. Huntsman.
“This is the best our party has to offer?” Roemer said. “How the heck did we decide that these are our most electable candidates?”
While the top contenders stand straight and attempt to look presidential behind their lecterns in front of 6 million viewers on national television, Roemer fiddles with the buttons on a flat-screen TV in his ninth-floor hotel room, trying to improve the reception.
“The picture keeps going fuzzy,” he said. “This might be a long night.”
“Want me to call the front desk?” his campaign manager asked.
Roemer shook his head and grabbed a Diet Coke. For the next two hours, he listened to the moderator’s questions and shouted back at the TV while his staffers typed into their laptops. He clenched his fist, pounded it against the dresser and loosened his tie. “Bachmann and Newt are clueless on our liberties!” he said. And then: “Expand the drones!” And then: “Get out of Afghanistan. It’s a corrupt country.”
When the debate finally ended two hours later, Roemer took off his glasses, sat back at his hotel desk and wiped his forehead with a hand towel.
“How’d we do?” he asked his staffers.
“Good debate,” one said. “You answered 40 questions and got some new friends on Facebook.”
“It’s the only thing we’ve got, and it ain’t worth a damn,” Roemer said. He reached for the remote and turned off the TV. “I feel like I’m talking to myself.”
Now, why would he possibly think that? Anyway, read the whole thing. It's further proof that old-fashioned retail politics in New Hampshire and Iowa just aren't cutting it like they used to.