The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Bill Richardson for SecState: Because Foggy Bottom Needs More Gaffes


Oy. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson to replace Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State?

The investigation into a pay-for-play allegation in New Mexico that derailed Richardson’s bid to be Commerce Secretary is resolved with no indictments. (Although the AP account quotes an unnamed source familiar with the investigation ominously declaring, “It was killed in Washington.”)

A brief refresher on the man who might be our next Secretary of State:

Even before getting into the race, there were reports that Al Gore and John Kerry passed on him as a running mate because of unspecified skeletons in his closet. When his lieutenant governor, Diane Denish, told a New Mexico newspaper that she avoids sitting or standing next to Richardson because he’s a little too hands-on, it hinted to what those skeletons might be.

Once on the campaign trail, Richardson’s campaign seemed to pratfall when it wasn’t immobile. In the first debate, he said his model Supreme Court justice was Byron “Whizzer” White, who dissented from Roe v.Wade. When he was later confronted with that, he erroneously insisted that White served before that decision. He also confirmed to moderator Brian Williams that he held off on calling for the resignation of attorney general Alberto Gonzales “because he’s Hispanic.”

He referred to Al Sharpton as “the governor.”

In the early debates, he sweated like a man who ate one too many chili dogs. In his Meet the Press interview, Tim Russert not only caught him in a slew of contradictory policy statements, but by the end Richardson was insisting that he was a fan of both the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, a straddle that made John Kerry look like an icon of consistency.

Finally, in the “gay debate,” when asked by lesbian rock star Melissa Etheridge, “Do you think homosexuality is a choice, or is it biological?” Richardson declared, “It’s a choice,” — an answer so unpopular with the gay and lesbian audience that he probably would have been better off belching the Star-Spangled Banner.

Afterwards, Richardson issued a statement declaring “Let me be clear — I do not believe that sexual orientation or gender identity happen by choice,” insisting he did not mean to say the exact opposite a few hours before.

Then again, he did persuade Marvel Studios to film their upcoming “The Avengers” in New Mexico.

Look at the bright side: The North Koreans apparently think he’s hilarious:

“Bill has a way of defusing tension with an offbeat joke,” says his wife Barbara. For instance, at one point during discussions with the dour North Koreans over Hunziker’s release, Richardson asked matter-of-factly, “Well, does he still have his fingernails?” The North Korean negotiators sat stunned for a second, then broke out laughing.

Torturing an American citizen unjustly imprisoned! Ha-ha!

Tags: Bill Richardson


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