Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Aftermath

What a difference four months and two words ("exploratory committee") sent to the guillotine can make. Back in late January, people outside the 505 shrugged when Bill Richardson unveiled his BR4PEC on This Week with George Stephanopoulos. That reaction was for several reasons. Among them,

A) The announcement came mere days after the two-headed hydra of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama had entered the fray.
B) Four months ago, approximately 17 members of the general public outside New Mexico, the Clinton Administration and the Democratic Party could pick Richardson out of a lineup.
C) Those same 17 people are the only folks outside the Stephanopoulos family who regularly watch This Week with George Stephanopoulos.

Nothing, other than semantics, substantially changed with Richardson's official entry on Monday. But this time around Big Bill's announcement was carried by most (if not all) the major television news networks and earned him headlines in Papers Of Record from New York to LA.

Therein lies the beauty of the curious political concoction that is the presidential exploratory committee (just ask Tom Vilsack how announcing right off the bat worked out for him). Moreover, the timing gave the Guv a rare spotlight all his own after several months of building support and, more importantly, some semblance of name recognition.

The majority of Americans still probably couldn't tell you what state Richardson governs if you spotted them the "New" and the "Mexic". Then again, plenty of Americans still think "New Mexico" refers to the strand of beachfront hotels and Señor Frogs in Cancun. If only Richardson had announced he was forming a presidential expedition committee on Monday. Then he could make another (bigger and with more balloons) announcement in September. Alas.

The Guv doesn't have quite as hectic of a campaign schedule this week, but he's not exactly spending the next couple of days pruning the Yuccas outside the governor's mansion either. Today he'll be hosting a limited engagement in...wait for it...Santa Fe (it's a small city in northern New Mexico) before he jets off to Seattle tomorrow, back to Albuquerque on Friday before making an appearance on Meet The Press (the show's title is taken quite literally in the governor's case) in DC on Sunday morning before returning to California Sunday night. The Yuccas might have to wait.

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