Thursday, December 27, 2007


A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
December 27, 2007

’Twas the day after Christmas, and few creatures were stirring at the Roundhouse. Is it just the usual post-holiday, pre-Legislature lull? Or has everyone gone to Iowa to help Bill Richardson’s campaign?

Richardson apparently was around the Capitol at least for a short time Wednesday morning. He did an interview with Russ Mitchell on CBS News’ The Early Show, and the backdrop looked like the Capitol television studio.

But he wasn’t there long. According to his campaign schedule, Richardson had a “presidential job interview” in Council Bluffs, Iowa, at 12:30 p.m.

And it’s not certain when he’ll be back. The Iowa caucuses are just one week from today, with the New Hampshire primary only five days after that.

That gives the gov just one week to write his State of the State address, which traditionally kicks off the annual session of the state Legislature — and comes only four days before the Nevada primary.

Downplaying expectations: His campaign e-mail pitches are breathlessly upbeat about Richardson’s chances in Iowa. “I wish you could see this!” said one missive last week. “You just wouldn’t believe what’s going on here in Iowa. ... I can hear the crowd shouting, ‘We want Bill! We want Bill!’ ”

But Richardson seemed in recent interviews to be downplaying expectations for Iowa, where, according to Real Clear Politics, his average poll number is just above 6 percent — a distant fourth place behind Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards.

For months, Richardson has said his goal is to be in the top three in Iowa. That’s still the case, but on Wednesday, he told CBS’ Mitchell that a fourth place finish there wouldn’t kill his chances. “It slows it down a little bit,” the governor allowed.

“But I’m continuing on to New Hampshire,” he said. “I feel I need to be in the top three there. Nevada, a Western state, which should be good for me — top three. And then we head into the Feb. 5 primaries, which contain California, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma — states where I will do well.”
However, according to the polls, Richardson isn’t doing much better in New Hampshire. Real Clear Politics has his average at 7 percent in recent polls there. And in California, most recent polls show Richardson in the low single digits.

In Nevada, his poll average is only 5.7 percent, again a distant fourth.

Richardson didn’t mention the Jan. 26 South Carolina primary, where he’s running in fifth place with a poll average of 1.8 percent.

“You know, I’m going to win this thing,” Richardson said Wednesday on CBS. “You watch this. You watch. You guys better start covering me because I’m going to win and then you’re going to be, ‘Oh, geez, where did this guy come from?’ ”

(UPDATE: I just came across a fresh poll in Oklahoma, one of the states Richardson mentioned. According to The Tulsa World, he's pulling 4 percent in the Sooner State.)

Cheating and yelling: Richardson hasn’t just been talking about boring stuff like caucuses and primaries to CBS lately. Recently, he and all the other presidential candidates were asked by anchorwoman Katie Couric about their attitudes on infidelity and losing their tempers.

Couric didn’t, however, ask the candidates if they’d lost their temper during infidelity.

She asked Richardson, “Many people say they don’t feel comfortable supporting someone who’s not remained faithful to their spouse. Why should they?”

The governor replied, “Well, I think this is ... if you’re — if you’re not faithful to your wife, you’re not faithful to the country, to your ideals. You’re not faithful to the spirit in which Americans trust their political leaders. And they expect them to ... have a sense of honor.

“Nobody’s perfect,” Richardson continued. “I’ve been married to Barbara for 35 years. We’ve had our differences, our difficulties, but we’ve stayed together. But I think being faithful is ... an essential component of any relationship. It’s whether a voter can trust you to ... be thinking about the common good as opposed to personal ambition or anything else.”

Couric then asked whether Richardson thinks infidelity is reason enough not to vote for someone.

“I don’t think so,” he said, “I think that, you know, infidelity is ... a serious problem in any marriage. But, you know, everybody sins. And it’s whether you’re forgiven, whether you forgive yourself, whether you have faith in God. You know, perfection ... is something that politicians, they should not stand themselves for perfection. Nobody’s perfect. "

When asked when the last time he lost his temper was, Richardson said, “I lost my temper last night when I was bone tired and I couldn’t find the bathroom light. I’d flown in from New Mexico. And I was in the hotel. And I couldn’t find the bathroom light, and I got mad and lost my temper.

“But thankfully, it was just with myself,” he said. “That was the last time I lost my temper. But I do that frequently. You know, I’m somebody that sometimes needs to cool down my fuses.”

“What happens when you lose your temper?” Couric asked.

“Well ... I just get — a little bit of an inner rage. I never — well, sometimes I take it out on people. But it — but it ends quickly. It’s because I demand a lot from myself, and I expect others to. But that’s a little side of me that I’d like to control a little bit.”

According to a transcript of the interview, Richardson added, “Praise others a little more. Thank people more. But in the end, sometimes I lose my temper and — and — and yell a little bit.”

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