Saturday, July 31, 2004

RICHARDSON'S CONVENTION SPEECH

I'm back to Santa Fe. Home to the sopapilla!

For reasons only known to The New Mexican's web staff, my story on the lukewarm reaction to Gov. Bill Richardson's convention piece didn't appear on the paper's free web site today. So I'll post it here:

(But before we get to that, here's the link to my story earlier this week on the Dems' anti-Ralph Nader effort)

Here's the speech article:

As published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
July 30, 2004

BOSTON — As part of the buildup to Thursday’s address by John Kerry, Gov. Bill Richardson took his turn as a speech giver on Wednesday.

But some New Mexicans who heard his speech at the Democratic National Convention said it wasn’t in the same league as those delivered by some of the heavy hitters who took the podium this week.

Some thought Richardson’s speech Wednesday might have suffered because it came so soon after the Rev. Al Sharpton’s stemwinder, which electrified the FleetCenter.

In his speech, which started out in Spanish, Richardson talked about his background as a former congressman representing Northern New Mexico and a cabinet member in the Clinton administration. He then spoke about why he thinks it’s important to elect John Kerry as president.

Most New Mexico delegates interviewed Thursday said they thought the governor did “pretty good,” or said, “It went OK.”

One even said, “He’s a good orator.” But some delegates qualified their assessments by saying it was hard to hear Richardson’s speech because of all the talking and commotion on the floor.

Notably, there was little talking and commotion when Sharpton or Illinois senatorial candidate Barack Obama spoke.

One delegate said she thought Richardson’s speech was aimed more at the television audience than the people in the convention hall.

Other New Mexicans who heard the speech were more critical.
“It was mediocre at best,” said one Democrat, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“I thought it sucked,” said a delegate. “But I thought Ted Kennedy’s speech and (Richard) Gephardt’s speech sucked too.”

Richardson spokesman Pahl Shipley defended his boss’s convention address.

Alluding to Sharpton and vice-presidential candidate John Edwards, Shipley said, “It was a night of great speeches. The governor’s speech fit in quite well.”

Richardson’s speech wasn’t broadcast on any commercial television networks, though PBS and CSPAN carried it, gubernatorial spokesman Billy Sparks said.

Sparks said Richardson wasn’t disappointed by the speech’s limited exposure. Richardson had been interviewed on a couple of cable news shows shortly before the speech, he said.

Though Richardson’s speech didn’t make it onto CNN, his face made it onto Larry King Live — on a jar of salsa.

Comic/commentator Mo Rocca showed a jar of the promotional hot sauce that the New Mexico delegation has been giving away in Boston.

“This is much better than the Barbara Mikulski pico de gallo,” Rocca quipped, referring to a U.S. senator from Maryland.

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