MANCHESTER, New Hampshire (CNN) - New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson reached out to New Hampshire voters Saturday morning at a house party in Manchester. The Democratic Presidential hopeful talked to approximately 25 voters in the front yard of a house in a residential section of New Hampshire's largest city.
Richardson arrived in the Granite State a few hours earlier, after his flight was delayed, but the lack of sleep did not slow him down. Richardson joked with the crowd about his weight, which he says he's losing, and about his entertaining new television ads. But the New Mexico governor was also serious, describing his plans to get American troops out of Iraq and his energy proposals to combat global warming.
While some of the frontrunners in both parties have reduced the numbers of house parties and other intimate events with voters, and increased the number of larger rallies and town halls, Richardson communications director Pahl Shipley tells CNN that they’ll keep doing these type of small gatherings, where voters get virtually one-on-one access with the candidates.
Richardson grabbed headlines last month, when his campaigned released a comical ad poking fun at his extended resume. Richardson served as Energy Secretary and U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. during the Clinton Administration, and before that, he was a U.S. representative from New Mexico.
In the campaign commercial, Richardson undergoes a job interview. The man interviewing him is obviously unimpressed as he reads off Richardson’s long government resume. The interviewer then skeptically asks Richardson why he thinks he’s qualified to be president; the governor then gives the camera an an exasperated look. The ad has been running in Iowa and New Hampshire, the first caucus and primary states. Shipley says viewers can expect a new ad with a similar plot involving a job interview in the near future.
Another Richardson commercial touting his energy plans has also been running in Iowa.
The New Mexico Governor’s resume was questioned last Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Moderator Tim Russert fired off a number of tough questions on Richardson’s tenure as Energy Secretary and New Mexico governor. While some in the media criticized Richardson’s performance, the campaign says they were happy with his responses to the questions. The campaign also points out that the longer a candidate’s resume, the more he or she is open to questioning.
Richardson is the only Latino candidate in the field. He was born to a Mexican mother and an American father and spent his early years living in Mexico City.
On Wednesday, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa endorsed Richardson's rival for the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton. But Richardson's campaign says it's not worried, adding it's already secured the endorsements of a number of top Latino politicians in California. Connecting directly with Latino voters is more important to them, says his campaign.
When Richardson formally declared his candidacy for President two weeks ago, Richardson announced in Los Angeles and was flanked by a number of top California Latino politicians.
Hispanics are the largest minority in the country and the fastest growing minority, according to recently released Census Bureau estimates. The battle for Hispanic voters is expected only to intensify.
At events on Saturday, Richardson was wearing a blue blazer and khakis, an outfit of choice while out on the campaign trail. From the house party, the candidate moved on to Concord, NH, where he spoke at the Democratic State Party Convention.
Richardson will be in Iowa later this evening to attend a Iowa Democratic Party dinner. On Sunday night, Richardson and his seven Democratic presidential rivals face off at Saint Anselm College just outside of Manchester, New Hampshire in a debate sponsored by CNN, WMUR and the New Hampshire Union Leader. That’s 7pm ET on CNN.
The Republican presidential candidates do battle at the same location Tuesday night, 7pm ET.
– CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser