Roemer backs Occupy Wall Street; Romney calls it "dangerous"
An estimated 400 people turned out Oct. 6 for the Occupy New Orleans march, a local version of the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations that began Sept. 17 in New York. The occupiers, as it turned out, had one ally in the presidential race: former Gov. Buddy Roemer, who has been struggling to get traction (and struggling, unsuccessfully, to be included in nationally televised debates).
In a campaign email sent out the day before Occupy New Orleans, Roemer, a Republican, wrote, "As I continue touring college campuses throughout New Hampshire, I am reminded of all the young Americans currently taking part in the Occupy Wall Street movement. Please know that I stand by you. ... Wall Street grew to be a source of capital for growing companies. It has become something else: A facilitator for greed and for the selling of American jobs. Enough already."
Roemer got the attention he was clearly seeking, but reactions were mixed. Slate.com's Dave Weigel wrote, "This will be a test if anything Roemer says can get attention. It's totally consistent with his campaign theme, which isn't getting as much attention as, say, Rick Santorum's, for reasons that elude me." The Hayride, one of Louisiana's leading conservative blogs and a vociferous critic of the Occupy movements, headlined its story, "Buddy Roemer Ought to Consider Changing Parties."
While many GOP presidential candidates had expressed their support for various Tea Party rallies around the country, the reaction to the Occupy rallies was muted-to-negative, with the exceptions of Roemer and Rep. Ron Paul, who said, "I can't speak for the people out there because I don't know who they are or exactly what they are demonstrating against. I can argue the case for their right to express their outright frustration with what is going on." Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney called the protests "dangerous" and "class warfare," while Rep. Michele Bachmann, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Santorum did not weigh in, at least publicly.
But it was Herman Cain, the businessman who became the frontrunner in several early October polls, who had the most quotable reaction. "I don't have facts to back this up," he told The Wall Street Journal in a video interview, "but I happen to believe that these demonstrations are planned and orchestrated to distract from the failed policies of the Obama administration. Don't blame Wall Street, don't blame the big banks. If you don't have a job and you're not rich, blame yourself." — KEVIN ALLMAN