Thursday, November 17, 2005

ROUNDHOUSE ROUND-UP: SQUIRMING TOWARD 2008

A version of this published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
November 17, 2005


Gov. Bill Richardson’s name frequently appears in the “2008 Democrats” section of The Note on ABC News’ daily political Web site, along with other potential presidential contenders.

But usually when the governor is there, it’s not for “tortured squirming.”

Richardson was recognized for giving the “most awkward non-answer of the weekend” during his appearance on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.

According to The Note, Wallace asked the gov about Washington Post columnist Al Kamen’s account of Richardson telling guests at an elite Georgetown dinner party that he’s “going” for president in 2008.

Noted The Note, “viewers were subjected to some tortured squirming.”

What makes Bill squirm? Here’s a transcript of how that interview ended:
Wallace: ... there’s a report this week about you going to a fancy Georgetown dinner party, and let’s put up on the screen what the report said. “Richardson was quoted by one guest as saying, ‘I’m running and you can tell people that.’ Two others recalled him saying, “I’m going in 2008.’” Governor, simple yes or no question. Is that story true?

Richardson: Well, you know, this is the season for rumors. What I’ve said and I’ve always said, Chris, I got to get re-elected in one year. I’ve got a broad agenda in New Mexico. I love being New Mexico governor. New Mexico has been very good to me. We’ll see after ‘08.

W: Well, not after ‘08. That will be a little late. But did you say at that party -- simple yes or no -- I’m going?

R: Those are rumors. You know, this was one of those dinner parties where there were a lot of people supporting a bunch of candidates.

W: Well, you could end the rumor, Governor.

R: Well, no, that is incorrect. I said that beyond ‘06, we’re going to take a look at a lot of options.

W: Okay. Governor, that’s a yes or no answer.
Richardson went through a similar version of this dance on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition Wednesday, ultimately saying that Kamen’s column was false. But since it was radio it was hard to tell how tortured the squirming was.

To Tell the Truth: So Kamen had it wrong, and veteran Associated Press political reporter Ron Fournier had it wrong earlier this year when he reported “New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson has told party leaders he will run.”

How could otherwise respected journalists keep getting this wrong? Why do they keep reporting falsehoods about the governor of New Mexico?

Chatter about Kamen’s column and Richardson’s refusal to pledge to serve a full term if elected governor next year, prompted former state Republican John Dendahl this week to wonder, tongue-in-cheek, what Democrat is really running for governor in 2006.

“It's time for one of those ‘Will the REAL candidate please stand up?’ challenges, with (Lt. Gov. Diane) Denish as the proper responder,” Dendahl said.

I love Paris in the springtime: The strangest e-mail I’ve gotten
all month has to be one from the state Senate Republicans, in which Mark Boitano of Albuquerque — one of the most socially conservative senators in office — expresses his admiration for a pop-culture (some would say “trash culture”) icon.

“I've become a Paris Hilton fan,” Boitano wrote in an “op-ed” piece.

O.K., that got my attention.

“No, it's not after viewing a provocative photo or a steamy video,” the senator continued. “It's after hearing Paris make an expectedly wise statement about breaking her engagement because she's not ready to get married and wants to avoid a divorce. ‘I have seen the breakups between people who love each other and rush into getting married too quickly. I do not want to make that mistake,’ Ms. Hilton said recently. The two million plus Americans who will marry in the next year can learn something from Paris' decision.”

Boitano goes on to note Hilton’s New Mexico roots.

“Her great-grandfather — hotelier and philanthropist Conrad Hilton — was born in New Mexico, served in the state legislature and was known to have deep affection for his family and country. He would be proud of her, as should state lawmakers, social scientists and anyone worried about the future of marriage, family and society in America.”

Boitano frequently sponsors legislation he says is designed to strengthen the institution of marriage.

Last year he co-sponsored a package of bills that included measures to reduce marriage license fees for couples who take marriage-education programs and require that divorcing couples with children go to pre-divorce counseling classes. The proposals didn’t make it out of the Senate.

“Some think Paris Hilton is overexposed (in more ways than one),” Boitano wrote, “but regardless of what you think about her, when people like Paris think twice about better marriage preparation that can result in improved marital unions and less use of the nuclear option of breakup and divorce (there) may be a ray of hope for this storied institution after all, and as Paris is fond of saying, ‘that's hot!’ ”

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