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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Big Bill's Carolina Cry: "I'm Trying To Provoke A Debate Here!" Our Inside Take On The Latest Debate, Plus: Know Your La Politica And Win A Free Lunch 

A frustrated cry from Big Bill last night summed up all you needed to know about his standing in the Democratic presidential contest. "I'm trying to provoke a debate here!" New Mexico's Governor pleaded. Good luck. As with earlier televised TV gabfests, the Guv did not even make his first appearance on CNN screens until twenty minutes in. Even ex-Senator Mike Gravel--was called on before Bill who went into the debate publicly hoping for a breakthrough moment. Well, to get one of those you have to get on. When he finally did, Richardson did his best from the crowded South Carolina stage. He made his move half way through the two hour event, lashing out at the war policies of the senators in the contest, including front-runner Hillary Clinton.

"I'm trying to provoke a debate here! There is a difference between me and the senators. Senator Clinton has a plan that leaves, I think, 50,000 residual troops. Our troops have become targets. The diplomatic work to heal Iraq can't begin without our troops out," bellowed Big Bill, hoping the mention of Hill's name would provoke the debate he yearned for. Earlier, he hectored his first-tier rivals saying, "I believe we should bring all the troops home in six months--with no residual forces. One hundred American troops are dying every month...The war is a quagmire...The time has come to being the troops home..no politics, get it done!" He declared.

The chastisement did get a small rise out of Hillary, but she made certain not to mention the Governor by name, instead saying "some of my friends here" don't understand "the complexity" of getting the troops out.

"The best estimate is we probably could remove a brigade out a month..That's a lot of months." She called for withdrawal plans that get the troops out "safely and carefully." Suddenly, Big Bill's plan for complete and total withdrawal was made to sound radical and unwise, unusual for him on a foreign policy question.

The debate was hyped for its novelty, with video questions coming from YouTube users instead of from a panel of polished journalists, but the questions, while phrased more amusingly, did not veer from the major concerns of the day expressed on any Internet news site worth its salt.

WALKING THE LINE

That Bill actually took on Hill by name was the "breakthrough" moment, seeing how he is now marching through a political minefield--trying to win the nomination in a long-shot bid and at the same time trying not to jeopardize his chances of getting a vice-presidential nod or a job in a new Clinton administration. But a breakthrough in the sense of a major shake-up in the race? Not last night, as Hillary more than held her own, leaving all her opponents, not just Bill, headed back to the drawing board to draw another blueprint on how to shake her up.

FOR APPEARANCES SAKE

Richardson's debate performance has improved, but so has that of his rivals, leaving the race static. He started with a weirdly protruding TV earpiece that was removed after a couple of close-ups shots. He wore a deep blue tie decorated with red stripes. His make-up job was professional, and his sometimes ample girth seemed under control. He is controlling his hands better, dropping the hyperactive gesticulating that was so annoying, but he still looks as if he has just received a jolt of electricity when the camera comes to him and he begins an answer. While greatly improved, this is not a format that showcases his strengths.

In these dog days of summer, only a stunning development could shake up this race. The candidates can keep in shape with these little-watched "debates," but it will be post-Labor Day when the contest really gets underway.

MORE TUBE

Here's the Guv's latest TV spot, released Monday and touting life insurance plans for National Guard members. And a Big Bill insider says the Washington Post will run a correction on this story looking at the Guv's fundraising.

"The story is flat wrong and the Post is going to do a “clarification."...The Governor’s campaign did not solicit any contributions for his gubernatorial account after announcing the presidential exploratory committee. The corporate contributions mentioned in the story were made in December and were solicited to fund the inauguration so the people of New Mexico could attend for free...It would have been illegal for the campaign to solicit contributions for the gubernatorial fund after establishing the exploratory committee- there is no loophole."

We'll let you know when the "clarification" comes.

WIN A LUNCH

Even the readers come under the scrutiny of the Alligators who populate these parts, and several of them called out blog reader Jade Andrews for his version of history when it came to the 1982 Democratic primary in the northern congressional district. Jade pointed out here Monday that Tom Udall lost that primary to Bill Richardson, but he said it happened in 1980, not '82. Several readers emailed the correction which gave us the question for our latest blog contest.

For a free lunch at a restaurant of my choice (Don't worry. I won't stiff you with Mickey D's) tell us who the other two candidates were in that 1982 Third Congressional District primary. I'll pick two winners, so get your e-mail guesses in now from the link at the top of the page.

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2007
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