Former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer Takes Steps Toward Long-Shot Presidential Bid

Mar 2, 2011 5:00pm

ABC News’ Michael Falcone reports:

Newt Gingrich has company. Turns out the former House Speaker is not the only one who will be dipping his toe into presidential waters on Thursday. Former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer plans to announce a presidential exploratory committee at a news conference in Baton Rouge.

Roemer served as governor of Louisiana from 1988 to 1992, and before that, as a member of Congress from the state’s 4th Congressional district from 1981 to 1988.

He was a Democrat for most of his political career before switching to the Republican Party in 1991. He lost the GOP gubernatorial primary that year to former Ku Klux Klansman David Duke. Roemer currently serves as president of Baton Rouge’s Business First Bank where Thursday’s event will take place.

Roemer’s news conference, scheduled for 1:30 p.m., will coincide with Gingrich’s expected announcement in Atlanta that he will begin what aides call an “explore phase” of a presidential campaign. Such a move will allow Gingrich to prepare for a presidential run, but it is legally different from an exploratory committee.

It’s unclear exactly what assets he brings to the table or what role he might play in the GOP primary, but with many of the other big-name Republicans still on the sidelines lesser-known candidates like Roemer are taking advantage of the vacuum to soak up some media attention.

And, in a sign that Roemer's nascent political operation might not quite have their act together just yet, a media advisory announcing the Thursday event listed the phone number of Politico reporter Jonathan Martin as the press contact. The mistake was quickly corrected.

Former George W. Bush media guru Mark McKinnon has been informally advising Roemer.

The former Louisiana governor will travel to Iowa on Monday for a speaking appearance at an event organized by the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition that also includes a handful of other potential presidential contenders — Gingrich, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, and Georgia businessman Herman Cain.

The Harvard-educated Louisiana native tried and failed to launch a political comeback in 1995 with another gubernatorial run and flirted with a Senate bid in 2004, but eventually declined to enter the race. Roemer, 68, underwent serious heart surgery in 2005.

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