Obama needs it. Hillary wants it. Kennedy could swing it.
Richardson’s torn. He served in the Clinton White House, first as ambassador to the United Nations, then as Clinton’s Secretary of Energy. “I have a history with the Clintons,” Richardson said. “And I’ve always liked her. She always seems very genuine.” But Richardson considers Kennedy, who’s long been respected by Hispanics, as “a mentor.” In 1982, when Richardson ran for Congress for the second time — he lost two years before — Kennedy flew to Santa Fe and campaigned for him. “That might have been the reason I was elected,” Richardson said. And he said he likes Obama, telling a story about how Obama saved him during one of last year’s Democratic debates:
“I had just been asked a question — I don’t remember which one — and Obama was sitting right next to me. Then the moderator went across the room, I think to Chris Dodd, so I thought I was home free for a while. I wasn’t going to listen to the next question. I was about to say something to Obama when the moderator turned to me and said, ‘So, Gov. Richardson, what do you think of that?’ But I wasn’t paying any attention! I was about to say, ‘Could you repeat the question? I wasn’t listening.’ But I wasn’t about to say I wasn’t listening. I looked at Obama. I was just horrified. And Obama whispered, ‘Katrina. Katrina.’ The question was on Katrina! So I said, ‘On Katrina, my policy…’ Obama could have just thrown me under the bus. So I said, ‘Obama, that was good of you to do that.'”
Election are all about moments and that one is priceless. Because at the end of the day these candidates really are just people and being able to demonstrate that you’re a good person in a pinch definitely has its advantages. You wouldn’t think that something like this could swing Richardson toward Obama, but he did go out of his way to mention this kindness, so make of that what you will.
So why is Richardson so important? Well, he’s easily the most respected Hispanic elected official in America right now, as well as one of our most experienced politicians. If he throws his considerable gravitas behind one of these candidates it means something. If Obama gets this one, the dam could break just enough to pull even with Hillary in some of the Super Tuesday states. If Hillary gets it, she’ll stop the bleeding and make sure the Latino vote won’t stray.
To close, here’s a hint to which way Richardson leans…
“If I do endorse, it’s going to be a gut feeling. It’s not going to be about statistics, about past ties,” Richardson said. “I’ve been on the campaign trail with both of them. I feel that I know them. I feel I know the issues. I feel I know what makes them both tick.”
Tick tock Bill…