Former Louisiana governor and congressman Buddy Roemer was one of five potential Republican candidates who appeared at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition gathering in Waukee, Iowa Monday night. At the gathering of social conservatives, which was held in a church, each of the candidates -- Roemer, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Tim Pawlenty, and Herman Cain -- took time to address abortion, faith, and cultural issues.
Roemer, like Gingrich, has been divorced twice and now lives with his third wife. Knowing that some social conservatives are unhappy with Gingrich's marital past, and also that many of those same conservatives don't know who Buddy Roemer is, the Harvard-educated Louisiana politician chose to disclose his past early in his remarks. And he did so in what was the most frankly religious appeal of the evening. (Roemer's speech is at about 40:00 in this C-SPAN video.)
"I'm honored to be with you in Iowa in faith and freedom," Roemer told the crowd. "I've always been a churchgoing Methodist boy, from a cotton field in north Louisiana. After a long period as a divorced man, 12 years, I remarried some 10 years ago. I married the piano player in a church next door to my own. Scarlett. Thank you, Jesus."
"So I now go to First Methodist Church nearly every Sunday," Roemer continued. "Sit in the balcony and then as the final hymn is sung, I sneak out and go to the chapel on the campus at LSU and sit with my wife and occasionally the piano. Faith and freedom, I'm honored to be invited."
Roemer's remarks appear to have been well received. Like Cain, he is a new presence on the Republican stage, and he knows how to give a speech. Whether his religion-infused discussion of his marital history will answer the questions of social conservatives, or allow him to avoid Gingrich's problems on the issue, is not so clear.