...BUT DO THEY WANT HIM?
From NBC's Andy Merten
In preparation for tomorrow night's debate, Richardson is continuing to tout himself as the only candidate supporting a complete withdrawal from Iraq, as well as the seemingly favorite of the lefty NetRoots. The campaign released a four-and-a-half-minute web video yesterday, in which liberal bloggers laud the New Mexico governor for his plan, while questioning the motivations of the top-tier candidates. An abbreviated version of the video will begin playing on New Hampshire television today.
"Clinton, Obama, and Edwards all say they want to end the war in Iraq, but they support leaving thousands, even tens of thousands of troops behind – that doesn't make any sense," says Matt Stoller from OpenLeft.com in the 30-second the TV version. He is echoed by Christina Siun O'Connell of Firedoglake.com, who adds, "If you leave troops behind, you're not ending the war."
The longer, online version of the ad not only takes aim at the Democratic frontrunners, but also Chris Dodd and Joe Biden (Kucinich and Gravel are left unmentioned). It is posted on GetOurTroopsOut.com, a site launched yesterday and paid for by the Richardson campaign. The site also includes a side-by-side comparison of all six candidates' Iraq policies.
While Richardson may have gotten several representatives from liberal blogs to appear in a paid television ad, he has not received an explicit endorsement from any of them. "While none of us are endorsing a presidential candidate - and Firedoglake has a policy of non-endorsement -- Chris [Bowers, of OpenLeft.com], Matt and I all agreed that this question must be answered," wrote O'Connell yesterday.
But the Richardson spokesman Tom Reynolds told First Read today that it is not seeking an explicit endorsement from any of the groups. Rather it is focused on "communicating the issues. We're trying to use that platform, because they share many of the same ideals as the governor," Reynolds said of the NetRoots, adding that the blogs have been effective in courting Democratic activists.
Still, the presidential hopeful's hard-line stance on troop withdrawal has not yet resonated with the NetRoots across the board, as evidenced in a straw poll conducted by The DailyKos -- one of the largest and most influential of the liberal blogs -- yesterday, in which Richardson only garnered one percent of approximately 6,300 respondents. Reynolds says he hopes that those numbers improve as the governor continues to differentiate himself on the Iraq issue, saying, "The DailyKos is a very influential platform for a great exhange of ideas; we engage with their members and will continue."
Potentially complicating matters further, Richardson was critical of MoveOn.org's "General Betray Us" ad. "Even good friends can disagree," Reynolds said, adding Richardson recognizes that MoveOn has been "extremely influential."