Washington (CNN) - Former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer officially joined the growing pool of potential 2012 GOP contenders on Thursday, announcing that he has formed a presidential exploratory committee.
Speaking from Baton Rouge at the bank he founded after leaving office in 1992, Roemer said he wants to run because Washington is "institutionally corrupt" and he wants to "challenge the current system of money and politics."
"Washington, DC is a boomtown and the rest of America is hurting. Why is that?" Roemer asked a room of supporters and press.
Roemer reiterated a previous pledge not to accept money from political action committees and to cap individual donations at $100 because he believes "the voice of the people are being drowned out by the money" in politics.
The former governor and founder of Business First Bank also said the country needs a president who "will be free" from outside influences to attack the nation's growing debt, balance the budget, honor small businesses and work towards energy independence.
With just one volunteer staff member and $50,000 of his own money to spend so far, Roemer acknowledged that he's starting out as an underdog, but said he believes now is the time for him to run.
Roemer said he has been inundated with emails, voice messages, tweets and twitters in the last 24 hours since reports of his intentions to form an exploratory committee surfaced.
"I came to the age of 67 where I thought I was old enough to know what needs to be done, and young enough to get it done," he said.
Roemer said as he weighs his decision to run, he will test his message – and his southern accent - in key presidential battleground states including Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. His first stop will be next week at a presidential forum sponsored by the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition in Iowa.
Roemer's announcement comes just an hour after former House Speaker Newt Gingrich announced that he is officially "beginning an exploratory phase" in his decision to run for president.