2-2 Richardson on the Road
By JAY MILLER
SANTA FE -- For now, Gov. Bill Richardson plans to be a weekend warrior on the presidential campaign trail, fighting the battle of the Legislature during the week and choosing a different state to attack each weekend.
And as with everything else he does, our fast-forward governor will be constantly on the move, visiting every town and hamlet he possibly can.
Richardson's first state visit after announcing was to Nevada, which will have a caucus, next January, a week after Iowa. He hit Nevada hard, promoting himself as The Western Candidate and promising to visit every county in the next 12 months.
The governor may be fortunate that he is the only Westerner in the Democratic race. He plays it to the hilt, wearing Western attire and talking Western issues, guns and horses.
It may not help. Dan Quayle didn't get anywhere with it several years ago when he moved to Phoenix before jumping in the GOP presidential race. And then there's some criticism that Richardson hasn't really lived in the West that much.
Small Western states with early primaries are ideal for Richardson's style of retail politics. But the big states are a problem. They require TV advertising, which makes the $13 million he raised for his gubernatorial campaign turn into chicken feed.
Money is what separates first-tier from second-tier candidates. Hillary Clinton may already have a prohibitive lead in that arena. How well will Richardson be able to do?
He's going to have to get most of that money from out of state through contacts he made as a member of Congress, secretary of Energy or chairman of the Democratic Governors Association.
One leg up Richardson may have is that he used much of his $13 million last year to give out nationwide to other candidates. Might some of those favors now be returned?
What would hurt Richardson the most is if some very big states jump into the early primary race. California and New Jersey, with some of the latest primaries in the nation, now are talking about it. So is Illinois, home state of contender Barack Obama. That would cut out the entire second tier of candidates in one blow.
Could Richardson get a boost from New Mexico native Brian Urlacher? I've heard some fantasies that if the Chicago Bears win the Super Bowl this weekend that their all-pro middle linebacker could then introduce Richardson to the nation.
Richardson's name may not be very well known, but Urlacher's is. His football merchandise is the second best seller in the nation. Assuming he doesn't endorse fellow Chicagoan Barack Obama, Urlacher could be a big plus for Richardson.
Gov. Richardson is fortunate that his father made sure little Billy was born in the United States even though the family lived in Mexico City. He wanted no question that his son was an American citizen.
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wasn't so lucky An Austrian by birth, he is not eligible to run for president. His plight has produced talk of amending our federal constitution.
Schwarzenegger isn't the first to generate such talk. Back in the '70s, many wanted to change the constitution so Henry Kissinger could run. Had that happened back then, Schwarzenegger might be the favorite today.
Another famous name currently being tied to Richardson's presidential candidacy is that of outted CIA agent Valerie Plame. Her husband Joe Wilson visited New Mexico twice last fall to campaign for Democrat congressional candidate Patricia Madrid.
While it is true that the couple is moving to Santa Fe, along with their six-year old twins, Wilson says the Fox News report that they will be working for the Richardson presidential campaign is totally false.
Another celebrity move to New Mexico has been confirmed. Former Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld has returned to his home in El Prado, just north of Taos, even though some locals there have given him a bit of grief concerning the war.
JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail) firstname.lastname@example.org