Friday, April 04, 2008

Clinton campaign's obsession with Bill Richardson is not helping them.

A couple of weeks ago I put up a post on Bill Richardson's endorsement of Barack Obama in which I described some of the angry reactions that came from Clinton supporters, especially James Carville's comment comparing Richardson to Judas Iscariot.

Things haven't died down either. This week it was reported that Bill Clinton, while meeting with a group of Super Delegates in California and being asked about Carville's comments, blew up, got red in the face and according to one participant 'went off like a grenade.' He was quoted as getting red in the face, shaking his finger and saying about Richardson, "He promised me five times to my face he wouldn't do that." Richardson has since denied that he ever promised Bill Clinton (or anyone else) that he wouldn't endorse Obama.

Well, in this game of he said/he said, one thing is clear-- at least one part of what Bill Clinton said is demonstrably false. While running for President himself, Richardson was clear that he was running to try and win the nomination on his own. He withdrew on January 10. CNN reported Tuesday that they had compared the two men's schedules since that time and found that the two men were in the same place only once since then-- on February 3 when they watched the Super Bowl together. So at most, Richardson COULD have only made such a promise one time, not five (since Bill Clinton clearly said "to my face," which to me pretty clearly indicates in person, not by phone, email or other messaging device.) Whether he made the promise on that occasion is an unprovable, but given that at least one part of Clinton's statement has already been shown to be less than truthful by the CNN sleuths, all other things being equal Richardson has more credibility on this than the former President.

More to the point though, the longer this goes on the worse it hurts Hillary Clinton. She is running against Barack Obama right now, not Bill Richardson. So no matter how bad her campaign and supporters make him look, they are taking their eye off the ball. Maybe it's little wonder that her lead in Pennsylvania, which just a week or two ago was polling as high as twenty points, is now less than half that much. Yeah, keep on campaigning against Bill Richardson. I can see the Obama campaign thinking, 'heh-heh-heh,' the longer this goes on.

It is true that the Richardson endorsement broke through a couple of weeks of static and has since led to a steady trickle of other super-delegates and influential party leaders endorsing Obama (including Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey, Minnesota Senator Amy Kobluchar, Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal and former Indiana Congressman and 9/11 commission co-chair Lee Hamilton, in addition to a comment not quite rising to the level of an official endorsement by former President Jimmy Carter who strongly hinted that he will vote for Obama at the party convention.) But beating up on Richardson some more still won't turn off the tap on superdelegates declaring their intention to vote for Obama giving him some substitute for momentum during a six week stretch between primaries. So it's hard to see what the Clinton campaign has to gain from this.


libhom said...

The Clintons still have a plantation mentality that they are showing with Richardson. They act as if they literally own any non-white person that works for them.

shrimplate said...

Wake me up when the Dems have settled on a candidate.

x4mr said...

Terrific post.

This behavior, but even more so, the nonsense about changing the rules of the game and the stuff about the states that voted for Obama "not counting" has torpedoed my respect for the Clintons.

Zach said...

Also, as you said in a previous post, news that's been replaced by new news doesn't tend to resurface. Who, other than the blogosphere and political science professors, remembers who endorsed who back before Iowa? Nobody.

So why are the Clintons keeping the news of this endorsement fresh? Shouldn't they want it to fade along with all of the other endorsements, so as to minimize its actual effects?

Eli Blake said...


Truthfully, I think the Clintons are starting to realize the possibility that they might (gasp) actually lose. And somehow the idea of losing an election just doesn't sit well with them (at least, not with Bill-- I'll give Hillary the benefit of the doubt and see how she handles a concession speech once all the results are in.) The recent statements by the Clinton campaign in which they have called even pledged delegates 'so-called pledged delegates' and hinted they may try to strongarm some of the Obama pledged delegates at the convention is frankly even more disturbing to me.

Zach said...

I strongly disagree with you. I don't think the idea that they might lose has even begun to cross their minds. I just opened this week's Time and foudn this quote... "Chill out and let everybody have their say. We're going to win this election." Supposedly talking about the Democrats, but I tend to read that as more of a "her and I" we.

Either way, though, I think the Clintons should shut up about Bill Richardson and let people forget a) who he is, and b) who he endoresed.

Well, actually, I think you and I can both agree that we don't want them to do that. But if they're smart, they would.