Despite the Clintons’ relentless wooing of New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, he announced Friday at the Memorial Coliseum in Portland, Ore., that he is endorsing Sen. Barack Obama for president.
Richardson, as a Latino, could help bring Hillary-leaning Latinos into the Obama fold.
It might have been expected that Richardson would support Clinton, especially since he served as ambassador to the United Nations and as secretary of Energy in Bill Clinton’s Administration. In what was viewed by many as a tactic to win him over, Bill Clinton chose earlier this year to watch the Super Bowl with the New Mexico governor.
Latinos supported Hillary Clinton in this year’s February caucus in New Mexico, by a 2-to-1 margin, according to exit polls.
The endorsement immediately raised speculation that Richardson may be a candidate for vice president if Obama receives the Democratic nomination for president.
In his endorsement speech, Richardson told Obama he is a once-in-a-lifetime leader who will bring this nation together, "rejecting the politics of race against race."
Richardson praised Obama for his speech on race relations, in which he defended his friendship with his provocative pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, implying that some of Obama’s experience mirrored his own as an Hispanic American. "He could have just waited for the controversy over the deplorable remarks of Rev. Wright to subside, as it surely would have. Instead, Sen. Obama showed us once again what kind of leader he is.
"He spoke to us as adults. He asked us to ponder the weight of our racially-divided past, to rise above it, and to seize the opportunity to carry forward the work of many patriots of all races, who struggled and died to bring us together,” Richardson said.
Clinton campaign strategist Mark Penn said he did not think Richardson’s endorsement was “significant.”