Richardson endorses Obama for president

New Mexico governor and former presidential candidate, Bill Richardson, endorsed the Illinois senator.

Bill Richardson has strong ties to the Clinton's. But the former Clinton Cabinet member says Barack Obama has the judgment and courage to be commander-in-chief.

The nation's only Hispanic governor was one of the most sought after endorsements in this very tight race. At a rally in Oregon, Bill Richardson endorsed Barack Obama.

"Your candidacy is a once in a lifetime opportunity for our nation, and you are a once in a lifetime leader," said New Mexico governor Bill Richardson.

Richardson says it was Obama's speech on race that did it.

"Senator Obama has started a discussion in this country that is long overdue and rejects the politics of pitting race against race. Sen. Obama showed us once again what kind of leader his is," said Richardson.

Bill Richardson owes much of his political prominence to Bill Clinton, who appointed him ambassador to the UN and then Secretary of Energy. And the Clinton campaign wooed Richardson aggressively.

But the governor says he developed a soft spot for Obama during all those presidential debates.

"He didn't mention me, but that's okay," said Richardson during a presidential debate.

"Did that hurt your feelings too?" said Senator Obama.

"Well a little bit," said Richardson during a presidential debate.

What kind of impact will the endorsement have?

"Bill Richardson and I grew up in politics; he in New Mexico, me in California," said State Democratic Party chair Art Torres.

State Democratic Party chair Art Torres has known Bill Richardson for 35 years, and says his biggest help to Barack Obama will be in securing super delegates.

"Many of these super delegates are members of congress with whom he served in the House of Representatives. So I think not so much primaries because Texas, California, Arizona, New Mexico are done. But I think the impact he is going to have is on super delegates and I think that is going to be a very positive point for Barack," said Torres.

The endorsement is a welcome contrast to damaging stories about his Barack Obama's former pastor, and indicted former donor and losses in Texas and Ohio.

The Obama campaign can hope it clears the way for other uncommitted Democrats to follow Richardson's lead.

The next big "get" of course is John Edwards and also Al Gore, as yet an uncommitted super delegate.

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