Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Richardson jumps the shark

OSCEOLA, Iowa (AP)--In a bid to prove that understanding the expediency of sucking up to special interests isn't an exclusively Republican trait, Democratic presidential longshot Bill Richardson said Tuesday that his comment about it being God's will that Iowa votes first was just off-the-cuff pandering for the locals.

Campaigning in south-central Iowa, the New Mexico governor faced questions about his witless and bizarre comment Monday, when he suggested that the U.S. Constitution and the Holy Bible require Iowa to lead the nomination process.

"Iowa, for good reason, for constitutional reasons, for reasons related to the Lord, should be the first caucus and primary," he said Monday. "And I want you to know who was the first candidate to sign a pledge not to campaign anywhere if they got ahead of Iowa. It was Bill Richardson."

The Des Moines Register reported on Richardson's stupid, stupid comments to the Northwest Iowa Labor Council Picnic in Sioux City.

Asked about it Tuesday, Richardson said: "Look, that was an off-the-cuff comment where I was sucking up to the locals so I said Iowa and New Hampshire should be first, because I really want people here to like me. If I don't pull at least third place here, I'm toast."

When pressed further, he said Iowa should launch the primary calendar because "it's a tradition in American politics that has worked," like gay-bashing and terrorism.

"Iowa scrutinizes candidates through a grass-roots state. They are very good at winnowing down candidates," he said. "They don't listen to national polls. Iowa voters are very independent and issue-oriented. And they'll never go for a fat half-breed if I don't kiss their ass a little bit."

During Tuesday's stop in Osceola, Iowa, Richardson said he was troubled by the frequent bickering between leading candidates Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Barack Obama, all of whom are better public speakers than he is.

"I think it's important to stay positive in this campaign," he told about 100 borderline alcoholics lured to a co-op winery by the promise of free samples. "Isn't Iowa great? God loves you people more than anyone."

Much has been made of the possibility of electing the first female or black president, but Richardson said that he didn't plan to put more emphasis on his Hispanic heritage if he can get attention through the time-honored tradition of obsequious gibberish.

"I don't like to be typecast. I'm very proud to be Hispanic, but if I used my mother's maiden name, like everyone else, it would be so obvious that I'm trying to just do it for votes," he said. "I'm after everybody, not just Hispanics, so I have to be prepared to say anything."

Richardson said he's up against tough competition at many campaign stops in early states, including the Labor Day appearance of Bill and Hillary Clinton.

"I'm campaigning against one formidable Clinton — now I'm facing two formidable Clintons," he said. "If they bring Chelsea out, I'm fucked."

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