Inside the Capitol

Saturday, March 22, 2008

3-28 Why Did Richardson Endorse Obama?

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- Why did Gov. Bill Richardson endorse Sen. Barack Obama over Sen. Hillary Clinton?
Richardson says he doesn't really know but he's trying to figure it out. There's something special about the guy, he says. He's an extraordinary American. He will be a historic and great president, a once-in-a-lifetime leader.
Obviously Richardson sees something in the guy. It is something intangible, a feeling that many are getting, including many in the media who have been accused of subconsciously favoring Obama, even while trying to make it appear that Clinton is closer to winning than she is and still has a chance.
Of course, we know the media love a horserace because it keeps people interested. But the numbers indicate Clinton would have to start taking superdelegates away from Obama and it's going in the opposite direction now.
Clinton's only road to victory now is for Obama to stumble so badly that superdelegates decide as a group that they will have to throw the election to Clinton even though Obama has won the popular vote and the pledged delegates.
That could happen and that is precisely the reason superdelegates were created by both parties -- to nominate the more electable candidate.
But Democrats were left with a very bad taste in their mouths in 2000 when their candidate, Al Gore, lost the presidency despite winning the popular vote.
The numbers likely played a part in Richardson's decision to go with Obama. If the situation were reversed, he could have been expected to go with Clinton. It would have been a less painful decision, considering his close ties to the Clintons.
Since Richardson's decision to back Obama, he has often expressed his admiration for Hillary Clinton. It was interesting that his positive comments about her even brought cheers from the Obama crowd in Portland when Richardson officially announced his endorsement.
Richardson's feelings of a need for party unity also were a likely reason for his endorsement of Obama, who has called for bringing people together. The two are a good fit on that issue.
Gov. Richardson's success in dealing with foreign enemies is actually almost crucial to Obama's commitment to sit down with our enemies. It is not a position that is popular with war supporters.
Talking heads from the right insist that dealing with one's enemies is a sign of weakness and is impossible because they don't want the same things we do. Being able to hold Richardson out as evidence of success in dealing with our enemies on a small scale can be of great assistance to Obama's message.
Richardson says that in one of his calls from Obama, when he was seeking the governor's endorsement, Obama said, "Come on, Bill, we'll make history, man." Richardson hasn't explained exactly what Obama meant, and maybe he isn't sure.
But they are a history-making pair. Both are children of the world, with an American parent and a foreign-born parent. Both were raised abroad in their early years. Both grew up "between worlds," as Richardson termed it in his book by that name.
It seems like too ethnic a ticket, although Blacks and Hispanics are the Democratic Party's two most dependable bases. Both have a White American parent although that isn't either man's defining characteristic.
That probably makes secretary of state or some sort of personal ambassador or policy advisor to the president more likely for Richardson.
Somehow Richardson and Obama do seem to make a good team. They had a good rapport during the debates. In his endorsement speech, Richardson again told the story of Obama whispering him the topic of a question he didn't hear, instead of "throwing him under the bus."
There's no telling what this pairing will mean. It may be that Richardson will make some campaign appearances for Obama and that will be it. There just hasn't been much talk about its significance because few ever thought much about the possibility of it happening.
FRI, 3-28-08

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



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