ANA SANTOS / THE EAGLE
Governors Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota and Bill Richardson of New Mexico discussed their brief stints as presidential candidates at AU on Oct. 20.
“People in my state feel bad about Kris Humphries’ marriage to Kim Kardashian,” Pawlenty said. “I say, ‘don’t feel bad for him, it lasted longer than my campaign!’”
Students, parents and alumni packed into Bender Arena Saturday night to watch the event, which was sponsored by the Kennedy Political Union.
Richardson said he received little attention during the Democratic primary, which became a battle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in 2008.
“My problem was, during the debates, I wanted someone to ask me a question,” he said.
Pawlenty said he had to strategize against his opponents during the Republican primary debate. Particularly, he needed to figure out how to beat them to the bathroom at the break.
“Newt [Gingrich] is portly. Bachmann, no I can’t push her over,” he said. “But that Ron Paul was scrappy. He was off like a dart!”
Both governors’ camaraderie was evident onstage and off. Before the debate, Pawlenty came up behind Richardson and put him in a friendly sleeper-hold in the ATV office.
“This intensive partisanship in Congress is not as evident in the states,” Richardson said in an interview with the Eagle.
He added that the National Governors Association, which works on national policy issues among governors of 55 states and territories, is bipartisan.
Richardson said he solicited advice from then Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney during his tenure.
“When I wanted to reform healthcare, I called Mitt Romney,” he said.
The two did disagree on Romney and Obama’s approaches to a key-voting group in 2012: Latinos. New Mexico, once a swing state, already has a firmer lean to Democrats due to the influx of Latino and progressive voters, Richardson said.
“You’ve got to be realistic, you can’t treat every voter the same,” he said. “This race will be set by minorities and Hispanics.”
While Bush won the Hispanic and Latino vote in 2000 and 2004, Republicans have struggled to court them again since Obama won a majority in the last race. Pawlenty said this vote will be critical and more so in the future, but warned the group was not a monolith.
“It’s not just about immigration,” Pawlenty said. “The top concern for Latinos is the economy and jobs. Guess what it is for everybody else? The economy and jobs.”