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The scene at Bill Richardson's endorsement of Barack Obama

PORTLAND, Ore. -- New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson formally endorsed Sen. Barack Obama today, calling his candidacy a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our nation."

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, accompanied by Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama, speaks at news conference in Portland, Ore., Friday, March 21, 2008, after a rally where Richardson announced his endorsement of Obama.

Richardson, a former presidential candidate himself, said Obama's speech this week in Philadelphia on the nation's racial tensions inspired him and factored into his endorsement.

Later, Richardson told reporters that he had made his decision a week ago and called Sen. Hillary Clinton on Thursday evening to give her the news.

"Barack Obama addressed the issue of race with the eloquence and sincerity and optimism we have come to expect of him," Richardson told a crowd that Obama's campaign said totaled 12,000. (The video is available in the gallery here.)

Richardson said Obama could have given a "safer speech," but he did not.

"He could have waited for the controversy over the deplorable remarks of Rev. [Jeremiah] Wright to subside, as it surely would have," Richardson said. "Instead, Sen. Obama showed us once again what kind of leader he is. He spoke to us as adults."

Being a Hispanic American, Richardson said he was ...

especially touched by the speech.

"He asked every American to see the reality and the pain of other Americans, so that together we can rise above that which has divided us. He appealed to the best in us," he said. "I have been troubled by the demonization of immigrants -- specifically Hispanics -- by too many in this country."

Richardson had been aggressively courted by both Obama and Clinton. Former President Bill Clinton even traveled to New Mexico to watch the Super Bowl with Richardson.

Noting his "great affection and admiration" for the Clintons, Richardson said he made his endorsement because the nation needs something different. He also called for an end to his party's endorsement process.

"It is time, however, for Democrats to stop fighting amongst ourselves and to prepare for the tough fight we will have against John McCain in the fall," he said.

Richardson, 60, was Energy secretary and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in Bill Clinton's administration. He also served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1982 through 1997.

He abandoned his own presidential bid in January, after a distant fourth-place showing in the Iowa caucuses. He has been mentioned as a possible vice presidential running mate and is also a superdelegate, the 62nd one that Obama's campaign says it has won over since Feb. 5.

Richardson's backing is thought to be especially influential with the nation's Latino community, an increasingly important voting bloc.

Clinton has generally had stronger support among Latinos, something that has helped her compete against Obama's strong and increasingly loyal support among African Americans.

Richardson, meanwhile, recounted how Obama had helped him in a debate before the Iowa caucuses, where he had not heard a question that had been asked of him and Obama whispered that it was about the government's response to Hurricane Katrina.

Obama called Richardson "one of the great public servants of these United States." He seemed a little confused about how long he has been campaigning, however, saying he has been on the road for "15 months," about two more than in reality.

Both Obama and Clinton have also sought to win the support of John Edwards, the former North Carolina senator and presidential candidate. But comments he made on Jay Leno's "Tonight Show" on Thursday evening suggested that no endorsement was imminent.

Just how much Richardson helps in Oregon remains unknown. The state is 86% white and is expected to be contested by Clinton, who has told the local media here that she will be make a campaign swing to the area soon.

In a conference call with reporters earlier this morning, Obama's campaign again suggested the media has not done its job in vetting Clinton.

Campaign manager David Plouffe said Clinton has a "character gap" that could make it impossible for her to win a general election. "There are character issues here that would cause us real problems in the fall," he said.

Plouffe said Clinton has run a campaign by "evasions and misleading the voters." He pointed to a statement she recently made on CBS' "60 Minutes," where she stopped short of stating that Obama is not a Muslim, despite having attended prayer breakfasts with him.

As the Obama campaign has been doing for the last several weeks, Plouffe also called on Clinton to release more documents from the Clinton Presidential Library and from tax filings.

"What are the Clintons scared of?" Plouffe asked. "What's lurking there?"

He then stated that the rest of the primary voters remaining and the superdelegates do not yet have all the information. "Democratic voters can't know what they really might be getting in a Clinton nomination," he said.

Plouffe also contended that Clinton's campaign is "pushing" the controversy over the Rev. Wright, Obama's longtime Chicago pastor and spiritual mentor.

-- John McCormick

McCormick posted this on The Swamp for the Chicago Tribune's Washington Bureau.

Photo: Alex Brandon / Associated Press
 
Comments () | Archives (8)

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How can blacks or hispanics support Mr. Obama? He favors the most brutal kind of disenfranchising of both blacks and hispanics. How? He unabashedly, unapologetically, and brazenly supports taking the life of the most innocent and defenseless blacks and hispanics in the nation — the black and hispanic fetus. Do Richardson and Obama know that both black and hispanic fetuses have beating heart at about 18-25 days from conception? Do they know that these embryos have recordable brain waves at 40 days? Do they know that they have their own fingerprints and fully functioning body systems at 11 to 12 weeks? How can we support a heartless candidate like Obama? How many black and hispanic babies will never get to run for — or vote for— president because someone who thinks like Obama had them killed?

Alby,

As a fetus did you grow a brain? Abortion is choice of individuals, not politicians. When a person has an abortion, its not your decision or they have to ask someone like you for guidance.

There isn't enough social safety net YET for every child created. Babies are abused after birth or they grow addicted and have less biological defense against drugs or alcohol.

Some people should not be having children. Look how some BENT pharmacy groups are trying to deny birth control prescriptions.

Babies live in squalor and suffer. I'd rather they never were born to go through that kind of pain.

Abortion shouldn't be a casual decision, it should be kept as medically clean and legal process.

His next book will be entitled:

The Audacity of a Dope

How a third-rate failed candidate turned his back on his friends because the could no longer help him. It's a study in character.

It was shock when Richardson endorse Obama. I can only think there was considerable political calculation involved. Nevertheless, it is his right and "Judas" is a bit too strong on Carville's part.

I agree with Alby: about Obama blithely disenfranchising Michigan and Florida voters based SOLELY on political calculations. I believe we who believe this is wrong should contribute to EXTENSIVE media buys in both states, especially in Michigan. At the very least we can point to the people who are to blame and assign political cost.

How about something on the order of :

Michiganders....don't let your voice or your vote be taken away because of stupid party politics and Obama's selfishness.

Write your state representatives AND SENATOR OBAMA saying you wish to have a re vote (it will be paid for). Tell Obama that you will not be there for him in November if he continues to obstruct your revote.

I have no doubt Obama's lawyers will drop many of their objections to re voting.


"Plouffe also contended that Clinton's campaign is "pushing" the controversy over the Rev. Wright, Obama's longtime Chicago pastor and spiritual mentor."

Unbelievable!!! Now the justifiable fallout from Wright is Clinton's fault!! This is part of the "new politics" Obama promised. And, the Clinton campaign as been VERY restrained. They could point to several very revealing articles about "Barry" and his Chicago roots. Read:
http://www.newsweek.com/id/128633/
and http://houstonpress.com/2008-02-28/news/barack-obama-screamed-at-me/

Can you imagine the screeching from Plouffe when the GOP party goes after "Barry"?

Senator Obama had pledged not to campaign in the state of Florida; however prior to Super Tuesday, the Obama campaign ran a nationwide television advertising campaign including Florida. Despite this professed campaign error, like Massachusetts, Senator Clinton cleanly swept Florida. Even with Bill Richardson’s 11th hour, self-motivated endorsement, the Obama campaign still rightfully fears having these delegates counted, 105 to Mrs. Clinton and 67 to Mr. Obama, respectively. Mr. Richardson's remarks are an edifice of transparency.


bill richardson, in an obvious sop to obama, hyperinflates the latter's candidacy, and praised barakc's philadelphia race speech to high heavens.

in a nutshell, let me state my points on this.

one, the greatest hero, the savior in fact of the americna blacks is/was not a black one like themnselves but a white one, the great emancipator himself, abraham lincoln.

two, the best us president for the americna blacks ins't necessarily a black one like themelves, but even a white one will do, provided he/she is highly qualified, experienced, visionary, principoled--like hillary is.

the problem with obama isn't his eloquence, but his inconsistnecy. he simply doesn't always walk his talk, now we know there was a point in time that he also favored american military presence in iraq! and i thought he hates it altogether?

another thing wrong with obama is his propensity to resort to name calling and ad hominems when he's piqued by hillary's (and even the media's) stinging vetting of him. for instance, he said his church which his pastor wright once headed, isn't a "crackpot church." as if to imply that all other churches not so like his are "crakcpot churches."

way off the mark, you say? but isn't obama's military adviser, a former general, also resorted to it, when the chap called bill clinton as engaging in "mccarthyism"?

oh, but you say obama disowned the former general's indictment of bill clinton. wrong. there was never a word from barack disclaiming the general's sordid characterization of bill clinton. so that it could be inferred that obama uses a duplicitous carrot-and-stick technique in shooting hillary from the hips at the slightest provocation.

final point: if the black americans will insist on obama simply because he's one of them, there just might be a war of the races among the democrats, blacks vs whites, in a show of force, or as a test of the numbers game. which has the most figure to elect the next (democratic) us president, the whites or the blacks?

"Betrayal calls for the strongest form of punishment:".....I would not elect Bill Richardson as dog catcher now. Hew can he sleep at night? i am sickened by his enddorsement, and must believe there was a motive in his madness. What goes around comes around Bill......


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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