Weeks to late to be really relevant, Richardson endorses Obama

After weeks of public wavering between Clinton and Obama, Bill Richardson finally made up his mind. You might remember the deal he made with Obama in the Iowa caucuses, providing the Illinois Senator with crucial votes in the realignment vote. You might remember that he watched the Super Bowl with Bill just 2 days before Super Tuesday. But the final decision came in the form of an e-mail to his campaign list yesterday night past midnight... The best way to make it on the morning news and control what story dominates today.

In the release, Richardson emphasized Obama's ability to bridge divisions and cited the Senator's speech on race given three days ago. Here are excerpts (full text available here):

The 1990's were a decade of peace and prosperity because of the competent and enlightened leadership of the Clinton administration, but it is now time for a new generation of leadership to lead America forward. Barack Obama will be a historic and a great President, who can bring us the change we so desperately need by bringing us together as a nation here at home and with our allies abroad.

Senator Obama has started a discussion in this country long overdue and rejects the politics of pitting race against race. He understands clearly that only by bringing people together, only by bridging our differences can we all succeed together as Americans.

Richardson is one of the major Democratic figures whose endorsement matters. For one, Richardson is a superdelegate. So count one more convention vote for Obama. And Richardson has enough influence in the party that he could bring a few other superdelegates along with him, starting with some in New Mexico.

Second, Richardson is a former presidential candidate who has always been close to the Clintons and has extensive foreign policy experience. This helps Obama boost his credibility against Clinton's attacks on his preparedness and it also provides for a very bad round of stories for Hillary, since this is after all one of her husband's secretaries that is now endorsing her adversary.

Third, Richardson can help the Illinois Senator among Hispanics, a group that Clinton is winning handily in contest after contest and that provided her with winning margins in places like California, Texas and... New Mexico.

But it's hard to shake off the feeling that Richardson's endorsement comes too late to truly matter. He came on the verge of endorsing both candidates in the week leading up to Super Tuesday, and that could have tipped the balance for Obama in one state or two (including New Mexico, which Clinton won by a hair). Or he could have endorsed Obama in the week leading up to March 4th to bury the New York Senator when she was most vulnerable and he could have boosted Obama among Hispanics, which he lost 2:1 (while losing overall by only 4%). Instead, Richardson jumped on the Obama wagon at a time where it is already leaving the station, and given how much he flirted with both candidates it looks like he is doing so because Obama is ahead more than anything else.

The states with large Latino electorates in which Obama could really have been boosted by Richardson's support have mainly already voted. The Latino vote will not make or break a candidate in Pennsylvania, West Virginia or Indiana. The only upcoming contest with a significant Hispanic population is Puerto Rico (on June 1st) but voters there are very unlikely to be influenced by the word of a New Mexico politician.

Speaking of Democratic politicians who are endorsing too late to really matter, John Edwards has still to make his preferences known. We were hearing a lot about how torn he was between Obama's message of change and his worries about some of his rhetoric, but even that chatter has died down now. I suspect that Edwards would have a much easier time endorsing Obama than he did a month ago, simply because the health care discussion has faded, whereas it was one of the main issues at the end of February. Considering Obama's frontal assaults on the Clinton-Edwards support for mandates, Edwards was in a difficult position.

People thought that the fomer Senator might finally break out of his silence yesterday when he appeared on Jay Leno's late night show, but he did nothing of the sort. Edwards could have provided a huge boost to either candidate in the days leading up to Feb. 5th and March 4th but he is now in the same situation as Richardson: Most of his supporters have probably already chosen a camp, and he already lost some of his pledged delegates in Iowa at the county conventions.


  • I think most of the superdelegates have a good idea of who they will support in the end and the campaigns know who most of their supporter will be. There are a few possibilites why Richardson delayed his endorsement until now. He was unsure who was going to win and wanted to keep his options open. After all he wants to be VP. He waited until after Texas and New Mexico out of some remaining loyality or a promise to the Clintons. Or maybe Obama asked him to come out today to help get the race story off the front pages. I agree he would have had an effect in New Mexico but don't think he would have been as decisive in Texas. I expect Obama has a number of other superdelegates, like Edwards, on hold to bring out at the most advantagest moment to their campaigns.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 21 March, 2008 09:35  

  • Agreed - bring out endorsements to keep a positive news story. The Obama camp has run the media campaign well this week - first with "the Race" speech which was well received initially. Then the next day speak about the Iraq war which also happened to be the 5th anniversary (coincidence?), then the next day use the recently released Clinton schedules to attack Clinton on NAFTA (good move in PA maybe) and then today bring Richardson out (helps with Latinos and experience). The Obama campaign is swiftly moving on from a bad few weeks and starting to rebuild momentum and if a steady stream of superdelegates come out for him that momentum will build. Only a couple of things can really slow his momentum :

    1) losing PA by a massive margin (25%+)
    2) losing or barely winning (M5% victory) NC and/or OR which are the two primary states he is expected to win in May.

    By Anonymous Guy, At 21 March, 2008 10:57  

  • It's a desperate play by Obama to get Wright off the front page, just as their camp is pushing the passport story in order to bury the Wright hubbub. I'm assuming Richardson has been promised a very high spot of O's short list for Veep. In fact, he would be a super choice. Yes, folks, Barack is not perfect, but I support him. GO BO!

    By Blogger Daniel Greenfield, At 21 March, 2008 10:59  

  • I don't know if it s a desperate play. It is just good sense - get the bad news out of the way weeks before PA, NC and IN and then move the story on with plenty of meat - Iraq, trade etc.

    By Anonymous Guy, At 21 March, 2008 17:54  

  • Don't put a fork into Clinton yet. She's going to cut Obama's lead in half by the time of the convention. The superdelegates that are unpledged will probably break towards Clinton.

    Bye bye Obama!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 21 March, 2008 18:29  

  • I'm a black female Captain in the U.S. Army. I have served for over 20 years and I love my country...I wouldn't want to live anywhere else in the world.
    Obama and his links to Rev. Wright/Rezco is bad judgement....and blacks need to own up to it and STOP making excuses for Obama & Wright.
    Before this story broke, I spoke to my 14 & 12 year old daughters about not hanging around those who have a bad reputation or continuously do negative things, because others will believe they are the same way....Obama should have had the intelligence to also know this by now!
    Wright should NEVER use the pulpit to voice political rhetoric...regardless if they are true or not. The pulpit is ONLY for God's word.
    I distastefully saw people...mostly young....crying, worshipping, and idolizing Obama at his rallies...calling him the Messiah. In my gut I saw trouble coming because of this.
    The ONLY Messiah is Jesus Christ. When Obama didn't ask these young people to tone it down, and when he himself rellished from being in the spotlight....he lost my vote. NO ONE puts him/herself on a pedestal acting as if they are Jesus Christ...ONLY Jesus Christ can do that. And why on earth would a Christian preacher (Wright) give a lifetime achievement award to a Muslim......Farrakhan???? As a Christian, this is very suspicious to me.
    Futhermore, I also blame white college kids who are Obama's core supporters. They also spew hate all over the Internet in defense of Obama 24/7. They blindfully supported Obama WITHOUT researching his platform....then alot of other whites followed suit.
    Bottom line....Obama needs to withdraw from the presidential race and the people of Illinois can deal with him and his Senate seat.
    Every candidate/man of God....including Obama and Wright, need to be held to the same standard...regardless of the color of their skin.
    If Obama was a white candidate....lets say Hillary Clinton and Wright was a white preacher....they would be fried by the media, black politicians and me....and rightfully so!
    I have been saying to family & friends for a year that Obama wasn't ready YET to be President...maybe in 8 years or a Governorship FIRST. Remember, you never want to set a person up for failure.
    As a Captain in the Army, my superiors would never put me in a position that I wasn't trained/ready for. The same should be the standard for the office of the Presidency.
    Experience for Obama is just NOT there yet. However, Obama's chances of holding a political office in the future is gone...probably forever.
    Superdelegates, you have an obligation to choose the best candidate NOT the most popular.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 21 March, 2008 18:47  

  • US Captain - Why do you think Clinton is qualified. Has she had a governorship, or run anything (other than a failed, mismanaged Healthcare task force).
    She got her position because her husband cheated (repeatedly) and she likes to play the female victim card.
    Popularity of course matters in an election - reality check!

    Good luck where you are serving our country.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 21 March, 2008 20:09  

  • Weeks too late to be relevant? Taniel, you should really find another line of work, where your biases don't affect the output.

    Obama has come through a bad down week, and a former opponent with high foreign policy creds and strong ties to another ethnic community steps up to endorse him. (A) It staunches the flow of bad news. (B) It signals to Latinos and other SuperDs that it's OK to come in from the cold night to support Barack. (C)It gives the legitimate press (that doesn't mean you, Faux) something different to talk about. (D) It goads the irresponsible Penn to make one of his more ludicrous remarks, which is a tough standard. (E) It gets under WJC's skin. (OK, that doesn't really count, except in my world.)

    I can only imagine the spin you would have given this had he endorsed HRC.

    By Anonymous zoot, At 21 March, 2008 22:44  

  • After observing Gov. Richardson kabuki dance with both Obama and Clinton, I cannot but wonder if he is still in the VP sweepstakes’. From the beginning it looked that Richardson was angling for the VP spot, rather that the top of the ticket. I am sure all this folks, with the exception of John Edwards who truly had a shot to the top of the ticket, knew that they had no chance with Clinton and Obama in the race. Evidently Mr. Richardson believes that the nomination is Obama’s for the taking and he better endorse now so he can remain a viable candidate for the VP spot. Makes me feel like taking a shower!! I hope that this slimy SOB does not get any consideration for the VP post. Hope he ends up a dog catcher in Albuquerque!!! Better still, I hope that Hillary still pulls the upset, so we can see the esteemed governor trying to work his way back into Clintonista territory!!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 21 March, 2008 23:46  

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