Buddy Roemer, the one-time congressman and Louisiana governor, was bound for Sacramento this morning to promote his long-shot candidacy for president when, at Reagan National Airport, in Washington, D.C., he crossed paths with a former presidential hopeful, John McCain.
"I heard this shout," he said. "'Roemer!'"
The Republican senator from Arizona has endorsed Republican Mitt Romney this year, but Roemer said he told him his campaign is "awesome," too.
After running as a Republican but failing to qualify for a single debate, Roemer is running as an independent. He is trying to become the nominee of Americans Elect, which will hold an online primary in June, and he is focusing this week on college students, with appearances Tuesday at University of the Pacific, UC Davis and UC Berkeley.
"They're less entangled with the current parties," Roemer said over a BLT at The Big Salad Shop in Sacramento. "They're freer."
Roemer feels he is freer, too. But the 68-year-old, who was a Democrat before he became a Republican many years ago, has some paperwork to catch up on to reflect that. In Louisiana, he is still a registered Republican.
"I will change that when I discover my state again, when I get back there," he said. "I'm not sure when I'm going back. I'm in California all this week."
Roemer had a newspaper in front of him, and he borrowed his campaign manager's red pen. The Republicans and Democrats are in their own circles, he said, pulled further and further apart by special interest money.
"I think the two parties are corrupt. I think they're joined at the billfold," he said. "Tell me what the difference is?"
He pointed to a space on the newspaper between the two circles he'd drawn. That's where he is, he said.
"They just don't know me," he said. "They will."
Roemer was planning to rest tonight, before his three events Tuesday. He had been up since early this morning, and for the first time in his campaign he said he was coming down with a cold.
He said: "I'm a long-shot, obviously, but I run to win."
PHOTO CREDIT: Former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer in July 2011. Associated Press/Jim Cole