Tales from the Trail

Arizona immigration law controversy hits border governors’ conference

The simmering row over Arizona’s tough-as-nails immigration law has led to a shift in venue for the U.S.-Mexico border governors’ meeting, an annual event usually characterized by unity and good will.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, a Republican, canceled the bash she was due to host after six border governors from Mexico pulled out in protest at the desert state’s crackdown on unauthorized immigrants she inked into law in late April.

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New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, a Democrat, stepped in this week to save the meeting which is now set to take place in Santa Fe in late September — although full attendance looks doubtful in the poisoned atmosphere that lingers.

“Governor Richardson is working with other governors to craft a tight, but productive agenda that focuses on the most pressing issues in the border region,” Gilbert Gallegos, Richardson’s deputy chief of staff, told Reuters on Friday.

“Obviously, all border governors are welcome and encouraged to attend, although the governors of Arizona and Texas have said they are not interested in joining a dialogue with their border colleagues,” he added.

Byrd demanded respect for the institution of the Senate

Senator Robert Byrd was a stickler for Senate decorum. And the Democrat from West Virginia would not tolerate any disrespect of the institution to which he was elected an unprecedented 9 times.

I remember when Bill Richardson, who was energy secretary in 2000 and under fire over security lapses at U.S. nuclear weapons labs, decided to skip a Senate hearing where he was asked to be a witness, Byrd was livid.

The following week when Richardson did show up for a Senate hearing, the Democratic senator from West Virginia delivered a scathing public scolding to the former member of Congress from his own party. (Jaws dropped at the sight of the Democratic senator telling Richardson he’d never work in this town again if Byrd could help it).

First draft: commerce conundrum

How many people does President Barack Obama have to nominate before he finally gets a Commerce Secretary? He himself doesnt seem to know — he even suggested reaching back in time and tapping Abraham Lincoln for the job.

But for live candidates, so far it’s two and counting. One close ally (Bill Richardson), one RepublicaUSA/n who seemed — initially —  willing to work with the Democratic president (Judd Gregg). At least until yesterday when he changed his mind.

That left Obama, who was visiting the land of Lincoln in Springfield, Illinois, on Thursday, to muse that the 16th president might be sitting somewhere “maybe wondering if someone might call him up and ask him to be commerce secretary.”

The First Draft, Monday, Jan. 5

USA-OBAMA

President-elect Barack Obama woke up today in the tony Hay-Adams Hotel, across Lafayette Park from the White House.

Soon after sunrise, a black SUV was spotted carrying Obama’s younger daughter Sasha to her first day at Sidwell Friends School elementary campus in suburban Bethesda, Maryland. Older daughter Malia will go to Sidwell Friends’ middle school campus in Washington DC.
The Obamas arrived in Washington late Sunday, an extra-early move so the girls could start school at the beginning of the semester. Most presidents-elect arrive on January 15. That’s when the Obama family will move into Blair House, directly across the street from the White House. The new first family moves into the executive mansion on Inauguration Day, JBOXING/anuary 20.

Top news on morning TV shows was New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson’s withdrawal as Obama’s chosen commerce secretary in the face of a legal inquiry. Richardson, a former Democratic  presidential candidate, has denied wrongdoing in connection with the investigation of a California-based financial company that had done business with the New Mexico state government.

Obama mourns loss of Richardson beard

When Barack Obama unveiled a newly shorn Bill Richardson as his Commerce Secretary pick on Wednesday, Obama praised the man but pointedly criticized his grooming decisions.

“We’re deeply disappointed with the loss of the beard,” the president-elect said.

“I think it was a mistake for him to get rid of it. I thought that whole Western, rugged look was really working for him.” Obama said of the New Mexico governor.

The First Draft: Wednesday, Dec. 3

President-elect Barack Obama will continue to fill out his Team of Rivals when he names New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson as Commerce Secretary at a press conference scheduled for 11:40 a.m. EST For those of you keeping score at home, that means at least three members of his administration will be former Democratic presidential candidates – Richardson, Vice President-elect Joe Biden, and Secretary of State pick Hillary Clinton. 
     
We can’t wait to see what he has in mind for Dennis Kucinich. 
     
On the Hill, lawmakers will continue to weigh U.S. automakers’ restructuring proposals ahead of hearings later this week. The heads of Ford, General Motors and Chrysler, chastened from their skeptical reception last month, are driving from Detroit this time — and they’re confident they’ll get here in good shape. 
     
“Our cars don’t have car trouble,” GM president Fritz Henderson said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” 

Chrysler officials hold a rally at a dealership in suburban New Carollton, Maryland, to build support for the bailout at 11:30 a.m. 
     
Bigwigs from Honda and Toyota are in town, too. But they’re not here to beg for cash — they’re talking about electric cars and other sustainable technologies at the Convention Center. 
      
Just how bad is this recession? We’ll know more at 2 p.m., when the Fed Releases its “Beige Book,” an antecdotal survey of economic conditions nationwide. 
    
Wall Street doesn’t need more gloomy evidence. Stocks are expected to open lower after Research in Motion, the folks who make the Blackberry, slashed their outlook and mining giant Freeport-McMoRan suspended its divident payments and slashed copper output.

REUTERS/Richard Clement (Richardson and Obama at campaign rally)

REUTERS/Fred Prouser (GM logo at LA auto show)

Democrats may need time to heal, Richardson says

LAS CRUCES, N.M. – Democrats will eventually unite once the hard-fought presidential nomination battle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton is resolved but that process may take time, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said on Monday. 

billrichardson.jpg“There’s going to be a need for healing,” Richardson, a former White House hopeful who is backing Obama. 

Richardson, who had served as energy secretary and ambassador to the United Nations in former President Bill Clinton’s administration, remained on the fence for several weeks before deciding to support Obama, an Illinois senator, two months ago.

Richardson endorsement: just for Hispanics?

obama-richardson.jpgSALEM, Ore. – Conventional wisdom suggests New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson’s endorsement of Sen. Barack Obama ‘s bid for the Democratic nomination matters most among Hispanic voters where, as a Hispanic himself, Richardson could have most influence.

Following that logic, the endorsement would have made more impact before Texas primary on March 5 or, even better, before Super Tuesday’s primary in California. Sen. Hillary Clinton won the big Hispanic vote in both states handily.
The point was made by Clinton’s campaign strategist Mark Penn.

“You know, I think New Mexico is a state that, actually, we won,” he said. “And if Senator Obama’s campaign wanted to follow what they tell everyone, they certainly would be telling Governor Richardson to be casting his pledged delegate to us.