Monday, August 20, 2007

Finally! No Gaffes, Goofs Or Gut Wrenching; Big Bill's TV Turnaround, Plus: On The Pete Beat With NM Legislators, And: Some Monday Bottom Lines 

He was slipping from being a long shot to a no shot, but NM Governor Bill Richardson regained his footing in the Democratic presidential contest in a big way Sunday, turning in his best televised debate performance of the year. Gone was the verbosity, the verbal gaffes and the tiresome references to his accomplishments as Governor. Instead, a new Richardson emerged on ABC's "This Week," one who adroitly handled the issues pitched his way and even threatened a home run. It happened when he took over the debate by defending his call for an immediate troop withdrawal from Iraq and demanded to know what his rivals meant by keeping "residual troops" in the war-torn nation.

The pundits were quick to tally the points on Richardson's scorecard, the WaPo's blogger among them.

...Richardson...was able to put himself at the center of the discussion of Iraq thanks to his plan to withdraw all American troops by the end of the year. Richardson came in for some subtle (and not so subtle) criticism for that plan from the other candidates but was able to make clear to viewers that he differs from his rivals on the most pressing issue of the race...Richardson seems to recognize that his best chance to move into the top tier is through distinguishing himself from his rivals on Iraq, and he did that successfully today.

The influential Des Moines Register also gave the Guv a rare pat on the back.

TV and Richardson have not been on good terms. He was nearly humiliated on "Meet the Press," and committed his well-publicized gay gaffe just this month. Critics howled that he was winging it and doomed to decline if he didn't start keeping his eye on on the ball. Sunday a rested and less anxious Richardson finally rose to the occasion and to the presidential level, providing a new mantra for his loyalists: "More of the same, Bill."


If the Guv can repeat his Sunday debate performance and continue his climb in the Iowa polls, it might quiet the speculation that he could come back to NM and seek the senate seat held by GOP Senator Pete Domenici. But that talk was not yet quieted when Pete was feted at a Saturday reception by state legislators representing Bernalillo county. Alligators on scene heard such talk among a circle or two of the some 100 politicos munching finger food and sipping Chardonnay pool side at the verdant North Valley home of GOP State Senator John Ryan. But most of us are more immediately concerned with the bearing of the 75 year old Senator and the stump speech he is developing as he begins a campaign for an unprecedented seventh term.

"He spoke for about 20 minutes. He appeared relatively vigorous, sometimes leaning on a chair for support. He said he is running again because "the people" have asked him to. He predicted that 2008 will be a rough year for Republican incumbents because of the unpopularity of the Iraq war, and he also said the race won't be cheap," informed one of our Gators enjoying his time at pool side.

One Senator not joining in the Domenici doings was Joe Carraro, who some party goers speculated was still sore at the state GOP leadership for tilting his race for the GOP US Senate nomination last year toward Allen McCulloch. Joe didn't respond to an inquiry.

The man McCulloch was trounced by, Democratic Senator Jeff Bingaman, is making an early appearance in campaign '08--by Senator Pete. Touring the south and east during the August recess, Domenici contends that he uses a bipartisan approach and that his relationship with Bingaman proves the point.

"The first time we worked together and finally got it done at 3 a.m., we shook hands and said, we didn't know each other before, but now we do," Domenici commented.

Jeff will be the last to dispute this contention, as he used his relationship with Domenici to appeal to conservative GOP voters in his successful re-election. But other Dems argue that Domenic has actually grown more partisan during the Bush years, citing his role in the US attorney scandal and support of the Iraq war.


We've told you to expect a three way race for the Dem nomination for Bernalillo County clerk next June, and now we expect the incumbent clerk to run using three names. A fundraising appeal for Dem clerk Maggie Toulouse sports her new moniker, "Maggie Toulouse Oliver." Toulouse's new name reflects her marriage to Big Bill press flack Allen Oliver...KOB-TV picked up on our report that Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez is nixing the notion of a special legislation session to deal with ethics reform as the Guv's Ethics Task Force is pushing. ABQ Senator Cravens is one R lawmaker who isn't upset with Sanchez viewpoint...

Among those making the Domenici event at Senator Ryan's home Saturday was Los Ranchos Mayor Larry Abraham, a registered independent, who will host USA President Bush at his home for an August 27th Pete fundraiser. Maybe the Mayor is practicing how to be a Republican in time for the Prez's appearance...

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