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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Richardson Out; Future VP Nominee?

And then there were three. And Kucinich. And Gravel.

Bill Richardson has dropped out of the race for the Presidency, leaving what was once a crowded 8 person field down to five, with only three of those polling above two percent nationally.

What's most interesting about this decision is the timing. He never had a realistic shot at Iowa and New Hampshire. His first great hope for a kickstart was next Saturday's Nevada Caucus, which is the next legitimate Democratic primary. If he ever had a shot at a top 3 finish, it was in the Southwest, nearby his native New Mexico, where some polls had him a close fourth to John Edwards. His numbers would have been undoubtedly higher if he was seen as a viable candidate, but with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama sucking nearly all the oxygen out of every region in the country, he could never get rolling.

Regardless, he's out now, but his impact has yet to be decided, both short and long term.

For the short term, with Nevada serving as the next match up in the air tight Clinton-Obama race, Richardon's 5-10 point influence could greatly shape the results. If he were to throw his support behind one of the two, it'd be a huge help in Nevada on the 19th, as well as Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Oklahoma, who all hold primaries on February 5th. He could also have some influence on the second biggest delegate state of the race - Texas on March 4th.

The possibility remains he doesn't endorse anyone until the nominee is evident. These middle-term impacts are difficult to gauge. If he does not publically endorse any other candidate, who benefits the most from him sitting out? A case can be made for each:

Richardson supporters go to Hillary Clinton because both are candidates with years of national public service and they see the importance of experience in the oval office.

Richardson supporters go to Barack Obama as Richardson's plan to be out of Iraq within a year is most likely to be carried out by the only viable candidate in the race to be against the war from the beginning.

Richardson supporters go to John Edwards because they never liked their choices with Clinton and Obama, and Edwards has run a campaign similar to that of an outsider governor.

My gut feeling is that he's ready to endorse Obama as the candidate of change, but there might be one thing standing in the way...

Bill Richardson is a great candidate for Vice-President, but an Obama-Richardson ticket if unlikely. They'll never admit it, but the Democratic Powers That Be see the 2008 election as theirs to win, and they won't risk that by pairing the first African-American and first Latino to ever make a presidential ticket.

Richardson would make a perfect Vice-Presidential candidate for Clinton or Edwards. (Yes, Clinton would be the first woman nominated by a major party, but it wouldn't be a ticket with two racial minorities. For comparison, surely you know that Hillary Clinton wouldn't go to Barbara Boxer or Dianne Feinstein for the VP nod.)

Richardson brings levels of experience at all levels, including congressional, cabinet, gubernatorial, and foreign affairs. He also would be popular with the Latino community, single-handedly flipping New Mexico and Florida from red to blue.

So might there be backroom dialogue between Clinton and Richardson? Is that why he dropped out before Nevada - so he can throw support behind Clinton sometime before next Saturday, in a power-brokering deal for the Vice-Presidency?

Only time will tell.


See you tomorrow.

1 comment:

Frankenstein said...

I think you're dead-on with the suggestion of Richardson teaming up with Clinton. Unless she owes somebody else a really big favor (and I suspect she owes a lot of people a lot of really big favors), I bet she picks a guy named Bill.

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