Surprise! Bill Richardson has charisma

The Democratic National Committee has just wrapped up its winter meeting.  The highlight, at least as far as the rest of the world is concerned, is the ten speeches by announced Democratic presidential candidates.  They’re all available at this link, and they’re an excellent way to get a sense of how each candidate’s basic stump speech is going to go.

And here’s some big news: one of the bits of conventional wisdom on Bill Richardson appears to be wrong.  The guy’s got plenty of charisma.  His speech was funny, charming, plain-spoken, bold, passionate, and had the crowd on its feet cheering numerous times (watch it here). 

And this was interesting — few if any of the other candidates talked about this issue, and he got huge applause for doing so.

In New Mexico, our fight for equality extends to sexual orientation.  For the first time in state history we have a hate crimes law.  We’ve extended civil rights protections to include sexual orientation.  And we’re providing state health insurance for domestic partnerships.

Some call New Mexico the land of enchantment.  I now like to think that we live in a state of enlightenment.

Did he come out swinging for equal marriage?  No.  But no one else even bothered to talk about gay rights.

Also, I thought Richardson was excellent on Iraq:

The War in Iraq is not the disease.  Iraq is a symptom.  The disease is arrogance.

A struggle for human rights is worthy of military intervention.  A true threat to our country’s security is worthy of war.  But a struggle between a country’s warring factions, where both sides hate the United States, is not worthy of one more lost American life.

As someone who served in Congress for 14 years, I know the power they hold should they choose to wield it.  The Congress passed a resolution authorizing war.  They need to pass another that overturns that authorization and brings our troops home by the end of this year.  You would think that when the Congress realized they were lied to, they would have done something about it.  Well, they still can.

On the others: anyone who heard Deval Patrick speak during the 2006 campaign could not possibly miss the startling similarities between Patrick’s message and that of Barack Obama.  Big chunks of the message are almost identical: down with cynicism; up with hope; let’s agree on some things even if we don’t agree on everything.  You’ve heard a lot of it before.  Obama’s speech actually ended with “Together we can hope.”  I don’t recall Deval ever running “Together We Can” and “Hope” right into each other that way, but otherwise, the resemblance is striking.

Hillary’s speech was, I though, fairly dull.  Not much more to say.  But she’s still got the money and the organization to beat.

If Richardson keeps wowing crowds like he did at the DNC, I’d look for him to be breaking into the alleged “first tier” soon.  Others think so too.

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12 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. I'd imagine so

    You don't walk into an encampment in the Sudan, sit two warring sides down, and bring them to a truce without having some charisma to pass around.  Actually, I like to use a better word for it: guts.

    sabutai   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
  2. I like Bill too

    • Oops

      Bad aim.  Anyway, what I was going to say was that I thought that I was going to get on the Obama-train, but my wife and I are both intrigued by Bill Richardson.  He had been on my list of people-who-should-run-for-president a long time ago, but I had frankly forgotten about him.  I don't think anyone in any party can touch Obama for charisma and eloquence (and sanity) right now, which are all important, but Bill's ahead in the gravitas column.

  3. I've been impressed with Richardson so far, too

    I don't know enough about him yet as a presidential candidate, but he certainly has experience, and the fact that he could negotiate a cease-fire in Sudan is obviously a significant accomplishment. And from what I've read, he's a good campaigner. I was disappointed to see in yesterday's NY Times interview that he wasn't interested in a job like secretary of state, because it seems he'd be good at it, in the event he doesn't get the nomination. From all appearances, it looks to me that he should be a first-tier candidate.

  4. Putting the Grown-Ups in Charge

    I've been intrigued by Richardson for some time, although I'm interested in what all the candidates are doing at this point.  It seems to me that on paper, he is far and away the best qualified person to be President.  If this were a job interview, I would have to put him high on the list of finalists, based on qualifications. He could run on the slogan of "put the grown-ups in charge" of running the country.

    Politically, he also offers some good prospects for Democrats.  He's from the West, he's a Governor, rather than a Senator, and he's Hispanic (but the folks too biased to vote for a Hispanic probably wouldn't think anyone named Bill Richardson could be Hispanic).  But most of all, he has a lot of experience, a lot of respect from leaders around the world, and would send a signal that ordinary Americans want to undo the damage to our national reputation wreaked by the current administration. 

  5. Hi, I am new here...

    My name is Cara, I am a New Mexican, and proud supporter of Governor Richardson.  My husband and some friends around the country started a grassroots website last week for our favorite democrat here...

    It is a great place to go and learn more about him.  We want to give everyone as much information as we can, because we believe the more you know about Richardson the more you love him...really. The guy is just incredible, and I say this after 20 years in politics, and my whole life as an interested observer, having first written to Nixon in crayon at 3.

    So visit our site, email me if you have questions, feel free to join our team, send in your stories of support...our site is fully interactive, loaded with video and info, and adding content daily!

    And we are not affiliated with the official campaign, but there is a link to thier site there too....


  6. Considering the BALANCE of your Top Tier...

    ...which seems to consist of Obama (Fluff) and Clinton (Nutter) I sincerely hope Richardson DOES break through.

    In case we DON'T keep the White House, I'd like to think an adult would be the Current Occupant.

  7. Check out this article to understand the $quot;startling$quot; similarities

    Alternet put up a bio of David Axelrod, which goes a long way to explaining why Deval and Barack have similar campaign slogans and styles.

    Also, don't forget that the two are long-standing friends, and undoubtedly have learned from each other.

    One thing the article points out is that Axelrod is not the one to impose similar beliefs on these candidates. He works on framing their similar messages.

    Which brings us to something else the two men share: David Axelrod, the 51-year-old reporter turned media consultant who was the key media strategist for both men's campaigns. He's the one who wrote those ads, framed that shot and came up with the "Yes We Can" tag line. "I don't bring these messages to candidates," Axelrod says when I point out the similarities. "I look for candidates who exemplify and reflect those messages." In the cases of Obama and Patrick, he says, the work is a collaboration. "They take and improve on what you bring them; they deliver it well because they believe in it. It's like riffing with great musicians."

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