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Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Governor is funny, candid. Does that hurt him?

An interesting article came out today in the Nashua Telegraph titled "Richardson a little rough underneath." Among other things, it discusses Governor Richardson's sincerity and frankness. He doesn't cater to what he thinks people want to hear--instead, he stands firmly on his beliefs and stances on issues; he never flip-flops (the same cannot be said for other candidates); and he does not sidestep questions--Governor Richardson is remarkably blunt, and not above cracking a joke or two. His humor shows in his 2008 and 2006 campaign commercials.

"The American people . . . don't want blow-dried candidates with perfection," Richardson said during the first Democratic presidential debate.

This isn't just an image he puts on in public, though: his demeanor extends behind closed doors. He cuts through bureaucratic nonsense to get to the hearts of matters, and as a result has been remarkably successful. While he's determined, he is also able to relate to others on a personal level: when he had to negotiate with Fidel Castro, he began by talking about baseball; when he learned the Japanese Foreign Minister liked cigars, he made sure to bring some to a meeting, only to take them out at the most appropriate time. Of course, none of this stops him from his ultimate goals--if anything, these characteristics help him reach them sooner.

And while his personality endears him to many of his constituents, the article asks the ever-present question: Is he presidential enough? He insists on being candid (a.k.a human), staying on point and solving problems instead of putting up the perfect public face. Does that hurt him?

The Telegraph doesn't take a stance, though it does mention some of the problems he faces because of this (such as naming Byron White as a favorite Supreme Court justice, which Michael talked about here).

I, too, am undecided. Does his persona hurt him? If anything, once I discuss the governor's personality with my peers, they seem to like him more. But of course, not all voters are 18-25 year olds--in fact, few are. His personality shouldn't hurt him, but it might if people are a) more focused on the image a candidate projects rather than the positive results he has on record and/or b) scared at the thought of a president speaking freely and acting like a person, not just a political tool.

"I'm not changing," he said in a recent interview. "Do I have faults? Yeah. Do I sometimes act a little quirky? Yeah."

As for whether all of that may be entirely "too real?"

Richardson flashed a dimpled smile. "We'll see."

God forbid we have a "real" president.


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