Inside the Capitol

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

9-15 NM Visible at All Three Conventions

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- Even though Gov. Bill Richardson was eliminated in the early rounds of the presidential selection process, New Mexico still received some visibility at all three political conventions in recent weeks.
That's right, three conventions. Former Gov. Gary Johnson addressed U.S. Rep. Ron Paul's counter-convention in St. Paul during the Republican National Convention.
For those interested in nostalgia, Johnson hadn't changed a bit. Even though he let his locks grow down to his shoulders and sprouted facial hair for awhile during the last six years, he had cleaned up and looked the same as always, as far as one could tell on the poorly lit stage.
He was slim and trim as ever as he bragged about being the most physically fit person in the convention hall. In fact, Johnson spent most of his 20-minute speech bragging about his accomplishments, especially as governor of New Mexico.
Johnson enumerated his seven principles of good government for the audience. As you may recall, he tries to do everything he can in sevens. It's all centered around his desire to climb the highest mountain on each of the planet's seven continents. He told the conventioneers all about that.
Mostly, Johnson tried to convince convention-goers about how much he resembles Texas congressman Ron Paul who previously sought the presidency on the Libertarian Party ticket. Johnson admits to being primarily libertarian in philosophy so he fit right in.
Rep. Paul ran this year as a Republican. He was wildly successful at raising money through the Internet. He had plenty to finance himself throughout the primaries but GOP leaders shut him out as much as possible. Convention planners gave him only limited access to the convention and denied him a speaking slot so he organized his own convention.
Over at the Republican National Convention, no New Mexicans received speaking slots on the program. The move surprised political observers since we are a swing state in the presidential column and have an open Senate seat and all three House seats are up for grabs with no incumbents.
But Rep. Heather Wilson, who has been carrying considerable water for the McCain campaign since her Senate race defeat by Steve Pearce, received considerable air time as a McCain surrogate. She was the most animated she has ever been and brought comments about possible top spots in a McCain administration.
Some analysts are speculating that Pearce is being ignored by the national party because New Mexico party leaders would have preferred to see Wilson as the Senate nominee.
The Democrat National Convention did pay attention to New Mexico. The delegation was seated near the stage and Gov. Richardson had a major speaking spot not long before the Obama speech.
In additional Rep. Tom Udall, the Democrats' Senate candidate, had a speaking slot as did former Attorney General Patricia Madrid, Rep. Wilson's opponent two years ago.
The national Republican Party may be slighting New Mexico as far as congressional races are concerned but the presidential campaign is up at the top of the list. Only days after the national convention, Sen. McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin were campaigning here.
Word had been that she was being flown back to Alaska along with top McCain staffers for some intensive briefing sessions immediately after the convention. But pressure from key states, including New Mexico, evidently caused a change in those plans.
Blogger Joe Monahan reports that the New York Times lists New Mexico among the 14 battleground states the two presidential campaigns have decided upon.
The McCain campaign has chosen five states won by Sen. John Kerry four years ago that it will concentrate on pulling into the GOP fold. They are Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania.
The Obama campaign will go after New Mexico, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Virginia and Ohio.
A Real Clear Politics list eliminates North Carolina, Missouri, Minnesota and Wisconsin for a total of 10 toss-up states.
MON, 9-15-08

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



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