A top Hillary Clinton adviser has sought to downplay the significance of New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson’s endorsement of Barack Obama — after the Clinton campaign spent months courting his support.
“I think everyone has their endorsers,” said senior Clinton strategist Mark Penn. “I think New Mexico is a state that, actually, we won.
“I time that he could have been effective has long since passed. I don’t think it is a significant endorsement in this environment.”
Obama’s campaign manager David Plouffe disagreed: “We obviously think it’s very meaningful.”
Referring to what the Wall Street Journal calls “the behind the scenes jockeying the Clinton and Obama campaigns had conducted since Richardson withdrew from the presidential race in early January,” Plouffe added: “That process has been going for some time now.”
In endorsing Obama, Richardson called him a "once-in-a-lifetime leader" who can unite the nation and restore America's international leadership.
Richardson is the nation’s only Hispanic governor, and his endorsement could help Obama pick up support among Hispanic voters.
Richardson backed Obama despite his ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton. He served as ambassador to the U.N. and as secretary of the Energy Department during the Clinton administration. Last month, Richardson and former President Clinton watched the Super Bowl together at the governor's residence in Santa Fe.
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