Barack Obama is just about ready to make his Vice-Presidential nominee selection and rumors of who will be that person have been flying around left and right. Political pundits on major TV and radio networks, progressive and conservative bloggers have all been giving their “expert” advice as to why Obama should choose one person over another. Some believe that the Senator from Illinois should pick somebody with foreign policy experience. Some argue that he ought to choose someone who is outside Washington beltway to show people that he really means when he says that he wants to change Washington. There are also those who believe that picking a person with executive experience – a governor is the wisest route to take, considering the fact that the Economy is the number one issue on voters minds.
Still, there is also a fairly large number of Hillary Clinton supporters who are holding a tiny bit of hope that Obama “comes to his senses” and picks her as a nominee. Moreover, another last minute speculation has it that the stock of Kathleen Sebelius – Governor of Kansas have risen as well.
Yet, one name is conspicuously and surprisingly missing from the list of top contenders and that person is the governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico. Richardson, many believe, is exactly the kind of person Obama should be turning to as his #2. His resume as a public servant is rich with all sorts of experience. He spent over 14 years in the U.S. Congress, held various cabinet positions during the Clinton administration, including Energy secretary and the United States ambassador to the United Nations. He has been involved in various negotiations and served as a special envoy in the negotiations with North Korea. He was elected to the governorship of the New Mexico (a swing state) twice, winning both elections by a wide margins. As a governor, he is well liked within his state because of his support for wide range of items, such as tax cuts, gun ownership, energy research, public transportation and etc. During his administration, New Mexico has been one of the top states in the country in job creation, has enjoed budget surpluses – an almost unheard of notions in today’s tough economy.
Although his own presidential campaign was unsuccessful, his positions on various issues within the Democratic party are very popular. He has been a strong supporter for the ending of the Iraq war and was one of the few Democrats in 2007 to suggest that the war should be deauthorized by Congress. He has supported negotiations with countries such as Iran and North Korea without preconditions. He’s an proponent of abortion rights and stem cell research, even though he’s a Roman Catholic. Last but not least, Richardson can help Obama carry several important swing states during the 2008 presidential elections, such as his home state of New Mexico, Colorado and perhaps even Florida and Taxas . Being a Hispanic, he could help energize and organize one of the fastest growing electorate in the United States.
Richardson does have some downsides to his candidacy. He is perceived as not a great debater. He was involved in a mini controversy surrounding his biography and whether he was ever drafted by a professional baseball team. Finally, being a minority, also brings out a minus in terms of whether American electorate is ready to elect not just one but two non-wide candidates. With that said, I strongly believe that Richardson’s pluses and what he brings to the table as a candidate with foreign policy and executive greatly outnumber his potential shortfalls.