Even before getting into the race, there were reports that Al Gore and John Kerry passed on him as a running mate because of unspecified skeletons in his closet. When his lieutenant governor, Diane Denish, told a New Mexico newspaper that she avoids sitting or standing next to Richardson because he’s a little too hands-on, it hinted to what those skeletons might be.
Once on the campaign trail, Richardson’s campaign seemed to pratfall when it wasn’t immobile. In the first debate, he said his model Supreme Court justice was Byron “Whizzer” White, who dissented from Roe v.Wade. When he was later confronted with that, he erroneously insisted that White served before that decision. He also confirmed to moderator Brian Williams that he held off on calling for the resignation of attorney general Alberto Gonzales “because he’s Hispanic.”
He referred to Al Sharpton as “the governor.”
In the early debates, he sweated like a man who ate one too many chili dogs. In his Meet the Press interview, Tim Russert not only caught him in a slew of contradictory policy statements, but by the end Richardson was insisting that he was a fan of both the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, a straddle that made John Kerry look like an icon of consistency.