Friday, March 21, 2008
A lot is being said about New Mexico's Gov. Bill Richardson's endorsement Friday of Sen Barack Obama in his bid to win the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. Personally, I think there's two truths to this action. The first is that, in a few Democratic inner circles, Richardson, with his Hispanic heritage, is perceived as a valuable election card. That he's now behind Obama certainly would raise the likelihood that the Illinois Senator could benefit within the Hispanic community as a result. But the more realistic fact here is that Richardson is relatively unknown throughout the U.S., even among rank and file Hispanics. Which is precisely why he garnered about 1% of the vote before being forced out of the race himself. I think Democrats are really kidding themselves to think that among average Americans Richardson's Obama endorsement will amount to much of anything. Endorsements in general mean very little. Just as Al Gore's endorsement of Howard Dean in 2004 fell on deaf ears, as did Ted Kennedy's failure to help score a Massachusetts victory for Obama, endorsements do little more than get a few political junkies and party officials excited. Just walk down Main Street America and ask them who Bill Richardson is and you'll likely get "Bill who?" If universally known party luminaries Gore and Kennedy's thumbs up achieves nothing, Richardson's nod to Obama is not even worth discussing.