Monday, December 31, 2007

Last Minute Attacks on Richardson?

Yeah... but really low budget ones.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Radiation Billness

SFR contributor and blogger Laura Paskus has a critical analysis of Bill Richardson's energy policy, among other things, in this month's issue of The Progressive. It's definitely worth reading, especially if, for a second, you thought that Richardson's policies would stand up to the scrutiny the media aims at first tier candidates.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

¡Yo Quiero Taco Bill!

A version of this story appeared in the Santa Fe Reporter.

By Dave Maass

This month, Republican Mike Huckabee pushed into the near-lead slot in Iowa thanks to a roundhouse endorsement from Chuck Norris.

Like Huckabee, Bill Richardson is also an ambitious candidate with gubernatorial experience. Yet, none of his celebrity endorsements—not even Martin “I played a President on TV” Sheen—have budged him from his second-tier status. But maybe Richardson can finally score an “Early Four” state now that Carlos Alazraqui, the voice of the Taco Bell Chihuahua, is stumping and stand-upping for him in Nevada.

SFR asked Alazraqui, who also plays Deputy James Garcia on the Comedy Central show Reno 911!, how he’s helping the cause:

SFR: How does a Richardson campaign joke go?
CA: I don’t do jokes about his campaign. I talk about what we have in office, about how it’s hard for me to trust a president who I believe has to study from cue cards every morning. [Bush impression]. Workin’ hard. Doin’ a good job. Makin’ progress. Stay the course.

You’re also the voice of the Taco Bell Chihuahua. That’s an iconic role.
It was at the forefront for three years, from ’97 to 2000. People still remember it nostalgically. It’s very bizarre to be part of the American zeitgeist both as a talking Chihuahua and a racist sheriff.

Do you feel being a celebrity has an impact?
Maybe I’m not as big as Oprah. I mean, I’m a basic cable comedy actor, but, you know, why not? They feel like they know us, so maybe in that sense we have the power at least to get them to go and vote for any of the candidates on either side.

Would you like to see Bill as vice president if he doesn’t win the primary?
Whatever position of the Cabinetry he can get would be fantastic. He brings a lot of experience. Maybe he’s saying that [he wouldn’t accept the post] at this point in time because he’s still in the race. To say that would sort of admit defeat. I think he will accept some sort of position if he’s not elected via the primaries.

Could you endorse Bill with the Chihuahua voice?

Man with a plan :: Cindy Sheehan likes Bill Richardson on Iraq—if only he’d call her.

A version of this story originally appeared in the Santa Fe Reporter.

By Dave Maass

In a field of Democratic presidential contenders putting forth vague timelines for troop withdrawal from Iraq, one candidate’s plan sticks out for Cindy Sheehan.

The outspoken and controversial “Gold Star Mom,” whose son, Spc. Casey Sheehan, was killed in Iraq, led the anti-war charge in 2006, only to face disappointment when the new Democratic-controlled Congress failed to pass a veto-proof withdrawal timeline in 2007. Sheehan is now challenging House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

And she’s also identified Gov. Bill Richardson’s promise to withdraw all troops from Iraq within the first three months of his presidential term as “the way to go.”

Sheehan tells SFR she won’t be making an endorsement for the Democratic primaries, and will instead likely back US Rep. Cynthia McKinney, D-Ga., if she wins the Green Party’s presidential nomination. In the Democratic field, however, Sheehan says she’s leaning toward US Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, even though “Kucinich isn’t as strong on immediate and total withdrawal as Richardson.”

That may only be because Richardson is one of the few Democratic candidates who hasn’t met with her, Sheehan says, and he’s not putting much effort into California.

“People are thinking, ‘Well, any Democrat would be better than George Bush,’ even though Hillary and Obama and Edwards haven’t said they would advocate for an immediate withdrawal of our troops from the Middle East,” Sheehan says. “I think that is very na├»ve and not very wise. If they really wanted the occupation to end, they would be working for the bottom-tier candidates like Richardson, Kucinich and [Mike] Gravel.”

But national priorities are changing, Cook Political Report’s senior editor, Jennifer Duffy, tells SFR. Health care, the housing crisis and the swinging stock markets are propelling “the economy” into the top concern slot, trumping Iraq, in voters’ minds, Duffy says. Plus, Iraq has quieted down in the last few months.

“I think that people realize you can’t wave a magic wand and end this,” Duffy says. “I also think that the news out of Iraq is not as awful as it was for a time. To me, this whole thing is just encapsulated in an ad that Hillary put up in Iowa yesterday. She goes through all her issues and then goes, ‘Yeah, and we’ll get out of Iraq.’ It’s sort of like a big postscript for her.”

Richardson’s Iraq plan tops his pitch list. Recently, he even launched separate campaign Web sites dedicated to the issue, including and, a poke at Clinton and Obama’s refusal to promise an end to the occupation by the end of the first presidential term.

Richardson’s position has yet to propel him above fourth place in the polls, and Duffy suggests that if Richardson did move up in the polls, his Iraq policy wouldn’t withstand scrutiny.

In fact, in his 2005 memoir, Between Worlds, Richardson admits to getting both the first and second Iraq wars wrong.

Regarding the second war, Richardson takes a position nearly identical to John Edwards.’

“Had I known then what I know now, I would not have supported the president’s decision to go to war,” Richardson writes.

While perhaps this doesn’t count as a flip-flop (maybe just a “flip,” Duffy says), Richardson’s reversal does further obfuscate the options anti-war voters will have to choose from.

“I think it’s extremely muddied as far as the candidates and their views on the war, and definitely between what they say and how they vote,” Toby Hartbargar, Iraq Veterans for Peace member and administrative employee, tells SFR. “I’m extremely pessimistic about the outcome of the election. Whether it’s a Democrat or a Republican, either way, looking at the frontrunners right now, it’s fairly depressing.”

However unlikely, a Sheehan endorsement may clear it up a bit, Duffy says, but perhaps not in a way that would help Richardson.

“I think [Sheehan] suffers from a little overexposure,” Duffy says. “I don’t think that her endorsement would carry enormous weight, but it would come with all the negatives. If somebody was on the fence between Richardson and, say, Clinton, it could push them one way or another. She’s just a become a very polarizing figure.”

Monday, December 10, 2007

Two kids in a dorm room

The brand new video blog, The Richardson Campus , from two Stanford students (a freshman and a masters candidate), dissects Bill's Sudan policy.

The kid with the fluffy hair really ought to read more SFR.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Bill’s ABCs

A version of this article appeared in this week's Santa Fe Reporter.

By David Alire Garcia

As he struggles to claw his way up from a distant fourth place among likely Iowa caucus-goers, Gov. Bill Richardson has a new TV ad airing in the Hawkeye state. It aims to teach viewers some basic math: Richardson + the Oval Office = pure educational bliss.

The ad rehashes some of the same footage from Richardson ads that ran in New Mexico during the guv’s ’06 re-election romp, while an authority-soaked male voice-over reviews the guv’s ’08 education promises: Scrap the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act; set a national minimum teacher wage; universal pre-K and new math and science academies across the country.

Entitled “Bold Plan,” the ad ends with this line: “See what he did for New Mexico schools. He can do that for America.”

A Richardson-affiliated Web site dedicated to the guv’s record on education——ticks off all the noteworthy things he’s done for the state’s schools. The bullet points run the gamut from boosting teacher salaries to increasing accountability to removing junk food from school campuses.

A campaign statement accompanying the release of the ad notes that “New Mexico ranked second in the country in education reform by the Fordham Foundation.”

A trip to the Thomas B Fordham Foundation Web site confirms the 2nd place ranking on reform, but the Richardson campaign left out a couple of other findings. The same study concludes that the state ranks 32nd for student achievement and has made only “minimal progress” for poor and minority students.

Scott Darnell, communications director for the Republican Party of New Mexico, piles on predictably—but accurately—with the following additions: Only 58 percent of the state’s public schools made adequate yearly progress under NCLB, and Richardson’s own Public Education Department reports a decline in the number of schools that met student academic performance standards from 2005 to 2006.

“If Richardson plans to do for the nation what he has done for education in New Mexico, we can expect nothing more than more of the same,” Darnell says. “The New Mexico education system should not be held up as the ideal standard.”

Monday, December 3, 2007

First Name Recognition

Today Arianna Huffington's blog sports this headline:

Will Hill Kill Bill for Lying About Iraq?

Since we playfully refer to the Governor by his first name, that's who I initially thought she was talking about, especially since Richardson's Iraq exit strategy's been taking a lot of heat for being a bit on the impractical side.

Turns out, though, that Arianna's talking about Hill's husband for claiming he'd always been against the war, even though his record indicates otherwise.

I can't help but wonder if Bill's fourth-place polling is any kind of reflection of the fact that he's not the most prominent "Bill" touring the campaign circuit. Maybe he should change his name to Guillermo.