Having lived in Albuquerque, my ears perked up when I heard New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson would be coming to town. While I’m not Hispanic, having the only such Governor in the continental United States coming out to push for Barack Obama is important. Like Wisconsin, the state of New Mexico (USA) has been considered to be a battleground state for a few campaign cycles. While it was disappointing to see the state go for Bush in 2004, in 2008, like in much of the rest of the country, Obama is now strongly favored over McCain in New Mexico.
At today’s Latinos for Obama rally, which was held at Pedranos Mexican Restaurant in the Walker’s Point neighborhood, Richardson told us about his experience during the presidential debates. He kept his eyes open during setup, and noticed that while the big dogs were huddled with their advisers and campaign insiders around them, Barack Obama was talking to the lighting guy and the stage crew. The little guys, the behind-the-scenes folks who were so essential to making the debate work. For the actual debate, while a bulk of the questions and attention went to the “big” candidates, including Senators Hillary Clinton and Chris Dodd, Richardson was consigned to “the corner with the minority candidates, Barack Obama and Dennis Kuncinich.” They didn’t get much attention, and so he believed that’s how it would be.
A few debates later, Richardson was not expecting much. But when the debate began, the first question went to him! Surprised, but not flummoxed, he offered his answer, and then tuned out, as he didn’t expect to be called on again. Which was fine until the moderator asked, “Governor Richardson, what do you think of that?”
The only problem was, Richardson told us, that he hadn’t been listening and missed what the question was about! Searching for something to say, he heard Barack Obama whisper to him, “it’s about Hurricane Katrina.” When no one else was helping him, Barack Obama saved Richardson from sure embarrassment, and likely won Richardson’s future support.
I followed Richardson’s progress (or lack thereof) in the ’07 presidential primary, and I was pretty sure that he was actually running for vice president or secretary of state. While it was sorry to see him quit the race, I was very happy when he endorsed Obama. Today, he was out on the campaign trail for Obama, helping to move the growing Latino vote. From my time doing doors in Brewers Hill today, I can tell you that there’s definitely a support for Obama among Milwaukee’s Latino population. Having Bill Richardson’s strong support will help Obama in the long run.