In a surprise move, Bill Richardson – Democratic heavyweight, Governor, Super Delegate and onetime Presidential candidate – endorsed Barack Obama possibly dealing the ‘deathblow’ to the Clinton quest for the nomination.
Having apparently made his decision a week ago and then confirmed it when Obama gave his ‘race in America’ speech, Richardson joined Obama today at a raucous campaign rally in Oregon where he said that the speech could have been a ‘safer’ one or simply not given at all letting the issue die down naturally. Richardson said in his endorsement speech that “…Obama showed us once again what kind of leader he is. He spoke to us as adults… he asked every American to see the reality and the pain of other Americans, so that together we can rise above that which has divided us. He appealed to the best in us…”
Richardson’s endorsement could be a fatal blow to Hillary Clinton’s bid for the nomination. It signals again that the big players in the Democratic Party do not favor her. His endorsement follows defections of other prodigious top Democrats such as Dodd, Leahy, Lewis, Liebermann, Kennedy, and Kerry who have forsaken the once thought invincible Hillary – which astonished not only Hillary and Bill, but others, too.
The Clinton’s worked hard for that endorsement even going so far as to subtly remind Bill that ‘President Bill’ gave him two cabinet appointments and his loyalty was needed now. It must have come as a shock to the Clinton’s when Richardson notified them Thursday evening of his decision. You can bet this breach of faith will not be forgotten by the Clinton’s.
The question now is will more big name Democrats follow Richardson’s lead and come out for Barack? The likes of Al Gore, Edwards, and Pelosi have remained uncommitted to endorse anyone preferring to play it safe and let the primaries play out. Now however, the gate has been thrown open to take the cause of Obama without too much backlash amongst their peers. Will they do so? Rumor has it that at least Pelosi is leaning to it. Other top Dems may follow in order to avert the political ‘bloodbath’ they foresee if this campaign drives on until summer and even the convention in Denver in August. The Democrats have too much to loose by a protracted conflict when it is fairly conceded that Hillary has little chance of winning this race.
The significance of this endorsement may be viewed in several ways. Most importantly, this move signals to the other super delegates to get in line and do not try to overturn the will of the voters. It now gives them the opportunity to join up with Obama and even jump ship on Hillary.
Additionally, it is a message to the Latino community by one of the most influential and popular Latinos nationally that Obama is ‘the right choice’ and that they should follow his example and vote for him. Hillary has had a slight advantage with the Latino voters, but that may now swing Obama’s way if they pay attention to Richardson which many think will be the case.
Another aspect apparent by Bill’s endorsement, is the ‘3 am phone call’ ad by the Clinton campaign questioning Barack’s readiness to answer that phone and deal with international crisis; he does not have the experience to do so according to the implications of that ad. Richardson campaigned as the most experienced in foreign affairs having served in the Clinton White House in several capacities and his endorsement signals that Obama is capable.
In an interview after the endorsement speech, Richardson answered questions about his conversation informing Hillary and Bill of his decision. He admitted that the tone of the exchange was heated at times and not well received. (Man, I would love to have been listening in on that phone call, wouldn’t you?)
What is the motivation for Richardson’s leaving the Clinton fold and boarding the Obama campaign ship “Change’ in an unexpected manner? According to Pat Buchanan on MSNBC minutes ago, Richardson has hereby presented his resume to Barack and “…he’s looking for a job…probably Secretary of State….” Hmm? IF Barack is elected will there be expectations by Richardson? Interesting question and one to watch. Pat Buchanan is a very clever guy – he may have it just right.
It has been a bad week for Barack with the Reverend Wright fiasco up front for most of it, but it sure ended on a positive note.