Bill Richardson Generating Buzz For 2008
by Scott Shields, Sun Aug 14, 2005 at 09:42:14 AM EDT
Richardson's resume is practically tailor-made for the Presidency. He began his political career by winning a seat in the House in 1982, where he served until President Clinton appointed him to be Ambassador to the United Nations in 1997; a year later, Clinton named him
Secretary of Energy. In 2002, Richardson was elected to his current position. Both parties like to nominate Governors for President, and the traditional criticism of Governors -- they lack foreign policy experience -- is a complete non-issue for Richardson. As a member of the House, Richardson was known as the go-to guy when negotiating with rogue regimes -- North Korea, Sudan, Iraq, Burma -- for the release of American hostages. He's even been deployed by the Bush administration to deal with the North Korean leadership on touchy nuclear issues.
"He just walked around the crowd, and he would just recognize people," Pindell says. "You can't make this stuff up."
Candidates, even nondeclared ones, have three things to accomplish in a New Hampshire trip, Pindell says: Introduce yourself to the nation's early primary voters, leave the crowd with a better opinion of you than when you arrived, and show a little respect for the East Coast traditions of politics and baseball.
"While he appears intelligent, he was more than happy to be in New England and talk about the Red Sox," Pindell says. "People seem to be very impressed with him."
In a lot of ways, Richardson seems like the flip-side version of George W. Bush. Bush was born in Connecticut, but defines himself as a Texan. Richardson was born in California and raised in Mexico and Massachusetts, but defines himself as a New Mexican. Bush is a baseball fan and former co-owner of the Texas Rangers. Richardson is a Red Sox fan who was a good enough pitcher to be drafted by the Kansas City Athletics. Richardson, also like Bush, has cultivated something of a reputation as a towel-snapper, teasing fellow lawmakers and reporters alike. His governing style has been described as "imperious" and he demands almost total loyalty."He does wield a pretty heavy stick," said Dan Foley, a Republican lawmaker from Roswell and one of the governor's leading nemeses. "Gov. Richardson wants you to be with him 100% of the time. If you're with him 99% of the time, you're his enemy."
Sound familiar? But while Bush is considered by many to be a relatively un-serious figure, Richardson's hands-on involvement in policy-making and negotiations with foreign leaders has earned him a reputation as a very serious figure.
Both pieces are definitely worth checking out. And the very fact that such profiles are being written suggest that Richardson's on his way to becoming a major player in the 2008 contest. As Ken Camp has pointed out in his diary here, while his polling numbers are currently on the low side, "Governor Richardson will raise his national profile in the months leading up to Iowa and New Hampshire and become a force to be reckoned with." Ken's absolutely right -- and these two articles show that Richardson's well on his way to raising that national profile.