- The Washington Times - Friday, March 21, 2008

New Mexico’s governor and former 2008 candidate Bill Richardson threw his support to Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential bid this morning.

Mr. Richardson, the nation’s first Hispanic governor, joined the Illnois senator at a rally in Portland and said Mr. Obama demonstrated his leadership abilities this week with his speech on race. “You are a once-in-a-lifetime leader,” the governor said from the stage. “Above all, you will be a president who brings this nation together.”

Mr. Richardson ended his own White House quest in January when he fared poorly in the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary. He has said he wrestled with the decision on whether to endorse because he has close ties to and deep respect for Mr. Obama’s rival, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Mr. Richardson praised Hillary Clinton as a “distinguished leader with vast experience,” but said that Mr. Obama “will be a historic and great president, who can bring us the change we so desperately need by bringing us together as a nation here at home and with our allies abroad.”

He has been courted by both Democrats, but did not back either before his state’s Feb. 5 contest. Mrs. Clinton won in New Mexico, in part because of her strength with Latino voters, who have favored her in most elections this season. But in an e-mail sent at 3 a.m. to supporters announcing his intention to support Mr. Obama, Mr. Richardson indicated it may be “time” for the nomination to be decided. “My affection and admiration for Hillary Clinton and President Bill Clinton will never waver,” he said. “It is time, however, for Democrats to stop fighting amongst ourselves and to prepare for the tough fight we will face against John McCain in the fall.” This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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