[BATTLEGROUND and FENCESTRADDLER STATES' ELECTORAL VOTES ARE NOT DOOMED TO BE FOR MCCAIN!]
9/15/2008 - 9/16/08
Gov. Bill Richardson on Monday launched a group called Hispanics for Obama , and announced that the Democratic presidential candidate himself will appear Thursday in Española.
Barack Obama is relying on Richardson to help court Hispanics in battleground states including New Mexico, which narrowly went for Republican George W. Bush four years ago and where John McCain also has visited several times this year.
In informal remarks to dozens of local Democrats at the opening of a new south-side Santa Fe campaign office, Richardson began with a hearty "Buenos tardes." He laughed and made joking asides to enthusiastic audience members as he happily played the role of Obama cheerleader.
"And we want that number to be close to 65 or 70 percent," he said of New Mexico's Hispanic vote for Obama.
It was a chance for locals to see Richardson do what he's been doing increasingly on the national level.
During the weekend, he attended several Obama events in Las Vegas, Nev. He met Saturday with Hispanic leaders there, spoke to Obama volunteers at a North Las Vegas campaign office, had a town hall at the College of Southern Nevada, attended a soccer tournament sponsored by Spanish-language television network Telemundo and spoke at a dinner for Las Vegas Democrats.
(The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that boxing fan Richardson also attended a title fight between Juan Manuel Marquez and Joel Casamayor.)
Also on Saturday, Richardson, in his role as Obama surrogate, taped an interview on MSNBC. On Sunday, he appeared on Late Edition With Wolf Blitzer, opposite Republican Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.
During last month's Democratic National Convention in Denver, Richardson told The New Mexican that the Obama campaign mainly wanted him to campaign in New Mexico, Nevada and Colorado, three swing states with significant Hispanic populations.
A spokeswoman for the Governor's Office said Monday that travel expenses for such out-of-state trips are paid by the Obama campaign. He normally travels with a state police officer, a state Public Safety Department spokesman said. Although the officer's salary is paid by the state, the spokesman said, travel expenses are covered by the campaign.
Some at Monday's event in Santa Fe seemed to want to use Richardson to pass advice to Obama.