Yet another Big Democratic Name has entered the 2008 Democratic Presidential sweepstakes — a name that would have appeared perhaps bigger if people named Obama and (Ms.) Clinton were not getting all the big headlines…and sucking up all of the political oxygen: New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson:
Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico jumped into the 2008 presidential race today, announcing that he had formed a campaign exploratory committee in order to seek the Democratic nomination.
â€œI am taking this step because we have to repair the damage thatâ€™s been done to our country over the last six years,â€? Mr. Richardson said in a statement. â€œOur reputation in the world is diminished, our economy has languished, and civility and common decency in government has perished.â€?
He highlighted his experience, from United Nations ambassador to state governor, as making him uniquely positioned to tackle a range of international and domestic tasks, from getting American troops out of Iraq to improving the economy and energy independence.
In fact, Richardson does have an excellent résumé and is respected by politicos in both parties. MORE:
â€œI can bring this country together,â€? he said on â€œThis Weekâ€? on ABC. â€œIâ€™m a negotiator. Iâ€™ve brought countries together closer on peace treaties. Iâ€™ve rescued Americans, hostages and servicemen.â€?
â€œWhat we have right now is an opportunity to deal with major issues that really are dividing this country,â€? he said.
The announcement today from Mr. Richardson follows the latest entries into the expanding Democratic field, including Senator Barack Obama of Illinois and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, who entered the race on Saturday with an e-mail message to supporters that said: â€œIâ€™m in. And Iâ€™m in to win.â€?
The Democrats now square off in what is effectively the partyâ€™s first primary, the competition for campaign donations.
In another year with less well-connected and well-financed (Clinton) candidates, or with less charisma-fortified (Obama) newcomers, Richardson might be one of the people to truly watch as a key figure, although his status as more of a centrist means he is unlikely to be the darling of the Democratic party’s powerful progressive activists or the vocal (and money-raising) “netroots.”
Even so, he has a good record in winning elections. He has done well in polls taken of his terms in office. He is not exactly made for TV, but he has two qualities that seemingly come across when he’s on any interview show or news program: sincerity and competence. He seems to be a reassuring figure. And his Hispanic background, plus his warm ties with Hispanic groups, could prove a plus.
But he’s running against candidates who are likely to suck up the money and the media oxygen. Even so, if you look at the history of primaries, surprises do happen.
On the other hand, does he have some negatives? This post by Steve Clemons (who has worked with Richardson and his staff) suggests he could face some rocky times ahead. Clemons also feels Richardson has little chance of succeeding and only serves to keep other Hispanics from stepping to the national forefront.