Saturday, March 22, 2008


Ari Berman (The Nation):
I'm generally skeptical about the value of political endorsements. Al Gore didn't help Howard Dean at all in Iowa back in '04. Teddy Kennedy didn't give Barack Obama much of a boost before Super Tuesday. And on and on.
But I think New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson's endorsement of Obama this morning will help, if only symbolically. Here are a few reasons why:

1. Richardson reverses the media narrative. He changes the story from one about Jeremiah Wright back to Obama's domination theme of inclusion and breaking barriers. The top Hispanic politician in America endorsing the top African-American politician in America is a story that tells itself. Richardson cited Obama's speech on race last Tuesday as a reason he decided to come on board.

2. He's a superdelegate. And a prominent one at that. Other superdelegates who were on the fence about Obama after the events of the past week may now feel reassured to come forward as well.

3. He's a former prominent Clintonite. Richardson was UN Ambassador and Energy Secretary under Bill Clinton. He knows the inner functions of the Clinton White House. Next time Hillary makes an outlandish claim about her foreign policy experience as First Lady, Richardson will be well-placed to deliver a forceful rebuttal. Plus, the Clintons badly wanted his endorsement. Bill even flew to New Mexico to watch the Super Bowl with him.

4. At the risk of repeating myself, he's Hispanic. The only Hispanic Governor, who happens to hail from a crucial swing state. Obama may not win the Hispanic vote in the primary, but he'll need to in the general if he hopes to beat John McCain. Richardson sends an important signal to Hispanic voters that Obama can be trusted.

5. Meet Vice President Richardson. He's got foreign policy experience from the White House, negotiated with dictators and freed hostages, knows how to run things as a Governor, represents a crucial swing state, served in Congress, has been on the trail before, etc, etc. He almost made the ticket with John Kerry in '04. Obama-Richardson?
There'd be nothing more historic than that.
Howie P.S. Maybe this endorsement will help Hillaryland deal with the new "inevitability." Dan Balz (WaPo) writes "Five Ways the Richardson Endorsement Boosts Obama," some the same, and some different, than Berman's five.

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