It is an important endorsement on at least three fronts. Mr. Richardson is an influential superdelegate for the party, whose declaration of support could draw the backing of other superdelegates needed to secure the nomination, since neither candidate seems likely to win it through delegates earned in the primaries and caucuses. He was a prominent second-tier candidate before the race narrowed to the two frontrunners, and as such has been courted by both campaigns since he dropped out. And he is the country's only Hispanic governor, and could thus help Sen. Obama with a key bloc of voters that has mostly leaned toward Sen. Clinton. Mr. Richardson, who praised Mr. Obama's national-security credentials to the AP, also brings the foreign-policy credibility that came with being ambassador to the United Nations, energy secretary, and global trouble-shooter for the presidential administration of Sen. Clinton's husband.DHinMI concludes with
Mr. Richardson's endorsement comes at a sensitive time for Sens. Obama and Clinton. The Obama campaign is still waiting to see how much his standing with voters over the controversial remarks of his former pastor in Chicago will be affected by his speech this week on race. It drew praise from many nonpartisan critics who called it one of the most thoughtful and honest discussions of the subject in politics, but it was also tainted by the political expediency that prompted him to make the speech in the first place. Ms. Clinton, who trails Mr. Obama in the delegate count, in the popular vote this primary season and in the number of states won or lost, suffered a setback yesterday in her efforts to catch up when Michigan lawmakers failed to agree on a way to "do over" that state's primary, as the Detroit News reports. Party efforts to hold new votes in Michigan and Florida -- where Ms. Clinton won races and delegates the party currently won't count at the convention -- have gone nowhere.
The next primary is scheduled for April 22 in Pennsylvania, where Sen. Clinton has been leading in the polls. The significance of Mr. Richardson's decision might be read in whether the likes of John Edwards or other prominent Democrats follow his lead before then.
The Wright controversy hurt Obama, but his landmark speech on Tuesday may be a turning point in the campaign. The effect of the speech on the campaign is still unclear, but it's likely that it blunted the force of Clinton's attack on Obama's ties to Wright. Clinton has been hoping to use Michigan and Florida to prolong the campaign, but that's now harder. And prior to Texas and Ohio, Richardson was already suggesting it was about time to shut down the primary race and turn attention to defeating John McCain.Barack Obama
Richardson's endorsement may be the beginning of a concerted push to pressure Clinton to acknowledge that she has fought a tough campaign but has come up short, that the race is over, and that it's time for her to recognize that our nominee for President will be Barack Obama.