Today in Portland, OR former Democratic presidential candidate, and current New Mexico governor, Bill Richardson endorsed Barack Obama. His endorsement got me thinking that Richardson might be exactly who the Obama campaign needs shore up their weaknesses in a general election campaign. In the Clinton administration, Richardson was the U.S. Ambassador to the UN, and Secretary of Energy. His close ties with the Clintons made the following statement all the more impactful.
“We are blessed to have two great American leaders and great Democrats running for President. My affection and admiration for Hillary Clinton and President Bill Clinton will never waver. It is time, however, for Democrats to stop fighting amongst ourselves and to prepare for the tough fight we will face against John McCain in the fall. 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,” Richardson said.
Obama has two major weaknesses. He has struggled to connect with Hispanic voters, and he is criticized for being weak on foreign policy. Richardson has consistently fought against what he sees as the scapegoating of Hispanics in this country. McCain and Clinton like to talk about their foreign policy experience, but their accomplishments combined don’t match Richardson’s in the foreign policy area. He is a Nobel Prize winner who negotiated the original disarmament agreement with N. Korea. (An agreement that the Bush administration at first threw out, but after trying to play hardball and failing, quietly went back to the Richardson framework).
Hispanics are the fastest growing ethnic group in the U.S., and right now they are angry at the Republican Party over immigration. An Obama/Richardson ticket might be enough to tip not only Richardson’s state of New Mexico, but also Colorado and Nevada to the Democrats. Having Richardson on the ticket is not only logical, but it almost makes too much sense. What Richardson’s endorsement signals, is that it looks unlikely that Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee. Richardson could sway other super delegates, and if he isn’t Obama’s running mate, he will be a valuable asset in the fall campaign.