Mr. Roemer, who switched from the Democratic to the Republican party while governor, made one more failed run in 1995, then retreated to the private sector.
Roemer talks proudly of his successes in Louisiana: overhauling campaign-finance laws, strengthening environmental protection, testing teachers for competency and balancing the state budget. But he also gained a reputation in the state as arrogant and aloof. "He wouldn't return calls. To anybody," said one state Senator.
Vitter's response: "You can look back. You can continue to write stories in the media about it. That's your decision. It's a free county. I looked the voters of Louisiana in the eye. I spoke to them sincerely. I think they heard me and I think they understood me. And now I'm looking forward, I'm not looking back." The panelist and moderator followed up, asking Vitter the question again: "Did you break the law? Yes or No." Vitter repeated his staid response. After the debate, Vitter was swarmed by reporters on his way out, who again peppered him with the question of whether he broke the law.
"You've lied, broken the law, and embarrassed the state," responded Melancon.
Melancon took the opportunity to set themselves apart from Vitter and his values. "It's the family unit that brings us all together... It's about honesty and integrity in Washington," Melancon said.
There were no other direct references to the call-girl issue at the forum, though Melancon has run attack ads seeking to remind voters of the controversy.
When the scandal broke, Vitter said in a news release that he had committed a "serious sin," but he has steadfastly refused to say more about the matter and has avoided questions. With polls showing him leading in the current race, he has limited campaign appearances and used television ads to boost his conservative profile and attack his Democratic opponent, Rep. Charlie Melancon.
Melancon said that issues of honesty and integrity were what prompted 11 people to seek Vitter's seat. "It's the reason everyone got into this race, to challenge Mr. Vitter," Melancon said.
While Kennedy shifted his rhetoric, Landrieu largely continued hers--calling Kennedy “confused” because he switched parties last year after running for the U.S. Senate in 2004 as a liberal Democrat who endorsed John Kerry for president.
Kennedy’s received significant fundraising and campaign help from the national GOP, but some of that assistance appeared to be drying up Wednesday with reports that the National Republican Senatorial Committee will pull its ads next week and focus attention on embattled incumbents in other states.
|2012 Presidential contenders on Principles & Values:|
Green: Dr.Jill Stein(MA)
Libertarian: Gov.Gary Johnson(NM)
Justice: Mayor Rocky Anderson(UT)
Constitution: Rep.Virgil Goode(VA)
Peace+Freedom: Roseanne Barr(HI)
Reform Party: André Barnett(NY)
AmericansElect: Gov.Buddy Roemer(LA)
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