New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson has, at long last, endorsed one of the Democratic contenders for the party's presidential nomination, and that choice is Barack Obama.
As a former political appointee of Bill Clinton (served as energy secretary and, later, U.N. ambassador), it's interesting that Richardson chose to endorse Obama before the convention. According to Richardson's e-mailed endorsement statement (received via the Bilerico Project), he did so partly because of the speech Obama delivered about race earlier this week:
Earlier this week, Senator Barack Obama gave an historic speech. that addressed the issue of race with the eloquence, sincerity, and optimism we have come to expect of him...
As a Hispanic, I was particularly touched by his words. I have been troubled by the demonization of immigrants--specifically Hispanics--by too many in this country. Hate crimes against Hispanics are rising as a direct result and now, in tough economic times, people look for scapegoats and I fear that people will continue to exploit our racial differences--and place blame on others not like them.
The current story about Hispanics voting in the Democratic primaries is that they're Clinton's to lose. Whether or not the endorsement of a New Mexico leader will matter to Latinos in Pennsylvania, whose big-deal primary takes place in 30 days, remains to be seen.
But reading Richardson's missive, my eyes kept wandering back to this paragraph:
Senator Obama has started a discussion in this country long overdue and rejects the politics of pitting race against race. He understands clearly that only by bringing people together, only by bridging our differences can we all succeed together as Americans.
Perhaps I'm reading too much into this but, in a two-way race, the governor's assertion that the contestant he's endorsed "rejects the politics of pitting race against race" would seem to suggest that the other has not.
--Adele M. Stan