By Mariela Rosario
Bill Richardson, currently the only Latino Governor in the country (D-New Mexico) declared his endorsement of Senator Barack Obama at a rally for the Democratic Presidential hopeful held in Portland, Oregon last week.
Richardson told Obama, "It is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our nation and you are an once-in-a-lifetime leader." The endorsement dealt a blow to the Clinton Campaign, with whom Gov. Richardson had been closely associated with, rising to national recognition when former President Bill Clinton appointed him Secretary of Energy and Ambassador to the UN during his time in the White House.
In addition to endorsing Obama, Richardson also called upon the Democratic Party to stand in unity stopping just short of suggesting Hillary Clinton pull out of the race for the Democratic Presidential nomination. Richardson said, "It is time for Democrats to stop fighting amongst ourselves and to prepare for the tough fight we will face against John McCain in the fall.”
Richardson pointed to Obama’s recent speech on Race in America as a reason he decided to publicly endorse the Senator as well as what he sees as increasingly negative tactics being used by the Clinton Campaign.
Obama responded enthusiastically to the support saying, "I am extraordinarily grateful to have the support of one of the great public servants of these United States. He's done the kind of work that you want from your public servants … He's been somebody who's been motivated by the desire to make the lives of his constituents and working people a little bit better."
The news comes on the heels of what could arguably be seen as the toughest 2 weeks so far for the Obama campaign. The Illinois Senator was still reeling from the public scandal caused by his former Pastor’s Jeremiah A. Wright Jr’s inflammatory remarks. Richardson’s endorsement makes a strong statement that one of the most influential Hispanic leaders in office does not feel as though the recent scandal will affect Obama’s ability to get elected in November. Richardson’s endorsement may bring a serious boost to the Obama Campaign as they continue to court the superdelegates who may have the final say in who is chosen as the Democratic Party Nominee. Although Clinton is ahead in the total amount of superdelegates committed to voting for her, she has secured only 5 more since Super Tuesday while Obama's gained 67 of these crucial voters since February of 2008.