Monday, April 09, 2007
Girl Talk: Where Big Bill Goes It Goes; How Will It Be Stopped, Or Will It? Plus: How Not To Scare Heather
He can travel as far as North Korea, but no matter where he goes these days girl talk follows Big Bill, and it is growing from a mere annoyance to a persistent and deeply troublesome part of the national narrative of his bid for the Democratic Presidential nomination. While getting only glancing attention in the dead-tree press here, the national press is constantly abuzz with salacious rumors that sometime, somewhere, Big Bill engaged in personal indiscretions that will be revealed and doom his chances for the presidency or the vice-presidency.
The subject came up again recently on the nationally televised NBC Chris Matthews Show where the host wondered aloud if the buzz on Big Bill's personal life is not preventing the Democratic elite from elevating him to a higher level in the Prez contest. Then there was the embarrassment of a public question about his personal ethics last week in the crucial primary state of New Hampshire.
On the Net, there's the omnipresent University of Virginia political analyst and a Founding Father of the Bill rumor squad, Larry Sabato, musing yet again on Richardson and womanizing. Here's Sabato pondering Bill's chances for becoming the Dem veep nominee. "Are the personal womanizing rumors true? We don't know but Richardson has to deal with them so the nominee--if not Richardson--doesn't have to."
SOLUTION TO THE PROBLEM?
Some political pros say that what Governor Richardson is doing to quiet the prurient gossip that is now part of mainstream coverage of his Prez campaign is not enough. He argues that he has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate as Energy Secretary and U.N. Ambassador and that there has never been a "hint of scandal" in his public life and "I don't know what else I can say."
The problem with that statement, seen through the eyes of the national pundits and his presidential foes, is that it is not direct enough. He is a presidential hopeful now, not a cabinet secretary. The questions are more invasive and the responses expected to firmly close the door. If the ambiguity continues, top politicos argue we may be headed toward more direct questions about his personal conduct. That is not comfortable territory for any individual, politician or otherwise.
The Alligators I consult think Richardson's campaign is not working the national press enough, that they need to directly lobby them on the issue, strongly deny any impropriety and get this persistent angle out of the news cycle before it overwhelms the candidacy. They also believe the candidate himself may ultimately have to make stronger behind-the-scenes statements. However, only Big Bill knows how far he can go to extinguish the burning embers and any little slip up will be called cover-up and release the attack dogs.
Analysts also point to NM Lieutenant Governor Denish who aided mightily in giving rise to the ribald speculation when in late 2005 she complained about the Governor's habit of touching her. We warned then that Di's statements could be inflated on the Prez trail.
Some Richardson backers argue Denish should be called on (if she hasn't already) to help put down what she helped give credibility to. How? Have her work the back channels in the national press and the chattering circles in D.C. and New York to extinguish the tittle-tattle that threatens to become a standard entry on the acclaimed Richardson resume.
Just how much of a candidate's personal life is the public entitled to know? Those of us who have covered politics and drawn firm lines in the sand have seen them blown away and moved with each new campaign. It's become Kafkaesque, with candidates like the New Mexico Governor being put on trial without any evidence or formal charges against them. But who said life or a presidential campaign is fair? Stay tuned.
They still don't have a candidate, but the Democrats do have a new Web site where they say nasty things about ABQ GOP Congresswoman Heather Wilson. That should really scare her. Not.
MORE PRESS FOR PETE
More national press for Pete in which the Dems hit him and R's defend him over the U.S. Attorney scandal, As with Heather they have yet to produce a top-tier candidate, even though Senator Domenici recently dipped to a 57% approval rating in an USA Survey poll, the first time we've seen that. The apathy and loathing toward risk-taking among politically ambitious younger NM Democrats who have nothing to lose by taking a chance is playing right into Pete's hands. Too many of them appear to want a sure thing. Perhaps they should call Pete and have him get them a civil service job. There's certainty in that.
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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2007
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