He has a resume that trumps every other candidate in the Democratic field. So why isn't Bill Richardson doing better?
He has a resume that trumps every other candidate in the 2008 Democratic field: Governor, U.N. Ambassador, Congressman, cabinet secretary. He has rescued hostages and negotiated with some of the toughest characters on the planet. So it seemed fair to ask: Why isn’t New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson doing any better in the presidential race? “We’ve become a celebrity culture,” he told me, “not that I’m complaining about that…”
Richardson . . . is by many measures the most conservative Democrat running. At the debate, moderator Brian Williams of NBC noted that Richarardson had the highest rating of any candidate from either party from the National Rifle Association. “I’m a Westerner,” Richardson said. “I’m a Governor of New Mexico. The Second Amendment is precious in the West.” But the Governor acknowledges that the best he can hope for in South Carolina is to come in third. “I need to be in the top three,” he says. “You’ve got to be realistic.”
[O]n paper, the candidates who have been relegated to the “second tier” look better than the front runners.
[What the top three -- Clinton, Obama and Edwards --] do have, as Richardson said, is fame. And with celebrity come endorsements and money. All three matter more than ever in an election season where the big states are moving their primaries to early February.
Richardson still insists the race is winnable for him. “I’m moving away from the second tier to the first tier,” he says, and pauses for comic effect, “slowly, quietly.” But he insists that he has time, and notes that both John Kerry and Bill Clinton were late bloomers in their primaries, too. “It’s 10 months away,” he says. “I want to break through Jan. 1. I don’t want to peak right now. I want to peak when Bill Clinton and John Kerry peaked.”