So who to endorse?
As the highest-ranking Hispanic in the Democratic Party, Richardson's endorsement is being aggressively sought by the Clinton and Obama campaigns. California, Colorado, Arizona, Utah and New Mexico are among the 22 states voting next week, and each have sizable Hispanic electorates. Richardson, who cruised to re-election as New Mexico governor in 2006, is a popular figure in the Hispanic community.
Richardson's torn. He served in the Clinton White House, first as ambassador to the United Nations, then as Clinton's Secretary of Energy. "I have a history with the Clintons," Richardson said. "And I've always liked her. She always seems very genuine." But Richardson considers Kennedy, who's long been respected by Hispanics, as "a mentor." In 1982, when Richardson ran for Congress for the second time -- he lost two years before -- Kennedy flew to Santa Fe and campaigned for him. "That might have been the reason I was elected," Richardson said. And he said he likes Obama, telling a story about how Obama saved him during one of last year's Democratic debates:
"I had just been asked a question -- I don't remember which one -- and Obama was sitting right next to me. Then the moderator went across the room, I think to Chris Dodd, so I thought I was home free for a while. I wasn't going to listen to the next question. I was about to say something to Obama when the moderator turned to me and said, 'So, Gov. Richardson, what do you think of that?' But I wasn't paying any attention! I was about to say, 'Could you repeat the question? I wasn't listening.' But I wasn't about to say I wasn't listening. I looked at Obama. I was just horrified. And Obama whispered, 'Katrina. Katrina.' The question was on Katrina! So I said, 'On Katrina, my policy . . .' Obama could have just thrown me under the bus. So I said, 'Obama, that was good of you to do that.'"
Bill, endorse Barack Obama!