Inside the Capitol

Saturday, March 22, 2008

3-26 Richardson Re-energized

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- We saw a re-energized Bill Richardson take the stage to endorse Barack Obama at Memorial Coliseum in Portland on Good Friday.
The atmosphere was electric and the crowd was the biggest, by far, that Richardson had addressed during the campaign. Somehow the two seemed to click as they greeted each other and bantered while the crowd cheered.
Richardson spoke with more fire and more concentration than he did at any time during his year-long campaign. He looked rested and ready to go, which is probably what he will be doing for the senator.
A New York Times article, by Mark Leibovich, a month ago said Richardson is now getting seven hours of sleep a night as opposed to the four he was getting during the campaign. As often noted here and elsewhere during the campaign, that lack of sleep showed in Richardson's performance.
When the Times interview was conducted, the reporter felt Richardson had not bounced back at all yet, observing "the accumulated wear of the last year has taken residence in his eyes."
By March 21, however, Richardson's eyes were sparkling. He was back on the campaign trail that he loves so well. Maybe a reported week in the Caribbean didn't hurt either. And most importantly, Richardson was improving his chances for a plum position in case Obama becomes our next president.
Richardson told that New York Times reporter that he thinks about being someone's running mate or secretary of state but he's not pining for it. "If it doesn't happen," he said, " I've had a great life. I'm at peace with myself."
Well, yeah, sure, he could probably handle it, but he surely perked up when his chances suddenly improved.
Maybe his chances always were pretty good with whichever candidate he endorsed, although the general feeling was that Richardson would have a better chance with Hillary Clinton since she is the one who had teased him publicly about choosing him as a running mate.
But Richardson said he received frequent calls from both candidates seeking an endorsement and, in addition, received many calls every day from heavyweights calling on behalf of Clinton.
Obama's calls were very precise, Richardson told Leibovich. He rarely pestered him with surrogates. Obama's approach was more like a surgical bomb, Richardson said. The Clinton's were more like a carpet bomb.
Former President Bill Clinton kept insisting on a face-to-face meeting with Richardson, who was in the middle of a legislative session at the time. Finally Richardson agreed if Clinton would come to New Mexico to watch the Super Bowl with him. Clinton revised his schedule and came.
It wasn't the first time the two had watched a game on television. It happened often at the White House. They both are very fond of smoking cigars, sipping wine and eating great quantities of hot wings, barbecued ribs and shrimp.
Expectations were that Clinton would get an endorsement for Hillary out of the get-together. Richardson says he came close.
The final decision was painful for Richardson. He owes much of his political stature to the former president who appointed him to two cabinet positions during his second term.
It is seldom mentioned that Clinton also was going to appoint Richardson as Interior secretary during his first term but changed his mind at the very last minute and appointed former Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt.
Richardson's endorsement of Obama may help some with Hispanic voters and with superdelegates. But the possibility of having Richardson on his team to answer those 3 a.m. phone calls about foreign crises is probably what the former U.N. ambassador adds most..
And the timing was perfect for Obama after a week of news clips about his former pastor. The Richardson endorsement and the State Department passport mess managed to push that out of the way.
WED, 3-26-08

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)



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