New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson endorsed Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination on Friday, delivering a blow to Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Richardson, one of the nation's top Hispanic elected officials, held high-ranking positions in Bill Clinton's White House. This was an Easter-season “act of betrayal,” said Clinton adviser James Carville. (The New York Times, free registration)
What the commentators said
The Clinton camp can’t agree what Richardson's endorsement means, said Don Frederick in the Los Angeles Times’ Top of the Ticket blog. Carville likened Richardson to Judas, but Clinton strategist Mark Penn said the endorsement didn’t matter. Either way, with Carville's insult coming as Obama backer Gen. Tony McPeak compared Bill Clinton to Joseph McCarthy, it's clear the candidates' surrogates didn't take an Easter break.
It is unclear what Richardson hopes to gain by “slitting the throat of his political patrons,” said Erick Erickson in the blog RedState. As someone “setting himself up as a Latino leader,” it seems like a better political move to put himself at “the top of the Clinton food chain.” Latinos, after all, are “heavily favoring Clinton over Obama.”
But Democrats are favoring Obama, said Andrew Sullivan in The Atlantic, and it looks like “the power-shift has already begun” among Democratic superdelegates. So maybe the endorsement is “somewhat tinged with Richardson’s hope for a veep pick”—and why not? Richardson could help Obama among Hispanics, in John McCain’s strongholds in the West, and in bolstering the ticket’s foreign policy credentials.
Richardson could sway superdelegates still sitting on the fence, said John Dickerson in Slate. But he also helped Obama change the subject after a hard week responding to criticism over his former pastor's incendiary sermons.