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Bill Clinton Drops in to Watch Super Bowl, but Richardson Still Mum on Endorsement

By Jeff Jones and Kiera Hay
Journal Staff Writers
    SANTA FE— Former President Bill Clinton flew in to watch the Super Bowl with Gov. Bill Richardson as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama prepared final blasts of campaigning before New Mexico's Democratic presidential caucus Tuesday.
    Richardson's huddle with his former boss at the Governor's Mansion hadn't resulted in a public endorsement from Richardson as of Sunday night.
    Richardson let Clinton, for whom he worked as U.N. ambassador and energy secretary, do almost all the talking when the two let the media in for a photo opportunity during halftime. Richardson ignored a reporter's question about the purpose of the visit from Hillary Clinton's husband.

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    The former president kept it simple. "I hope she's going to win," he said of his wife's chances. "New Mexico is very, very good to me. I love it here."
    Meanwhile, Michelle Obama planned to make a last-minute New Mexico stop for her husband in Las Cruces tonight as he and Hillary Clinton campaigned with spouses, surrogates and expensive television ads in a late but intense battle for New Mexico delegates in Tuesday's Democratic presidential caucus here.
    Michelle Obama is to headline a rally at New Mexico State University's Corbett Center; doors open at 6:30 p.m.
    The Clinton campaign was preparing to pack in its own big crowd tonight at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque, where one leg of a Hillary Clinton "national town hall" meeting will take place, with Clinton participating by satellite.
    The Bill Clinton-Bill Richardson Super Bowl visit had originally been planned to happen in Red River, in northern New Mexico, but winter weather prevented Clinton's plane from flying to Taos, and the party was hurriedly reset for Santa Fe.
    Richardson had to return to the Governor's Mansion in Santa Fe from Red River, where he had awaited Clinton. Clinton had been campaigning for his wife in California and said he planned to return there after the game.
    Obama and Hillary Clinton have both been courting Richardson for his endorsement since he dropped his own bid for the Democratic nomination on Jan. 10. Richardson rode the fence into Sunday afternoon, but his Super Bowl photo op with the former president was clearly a show of a relationship with the Clintons.
    However, Richardson spokesman Pahl Shipley told The Associated Press, "There's no message intended by this."
    Hillary Clinton, during her appearance at a rally in Albuquerque on Saturday night, made sure to mention the news of the Richardson-Clinton Super Bowl get-together.
    "My understanding is, do not get between Bill Clinton and Bill Richardson and the TV set when the Super Bowl is on," cracked Hillary Clinton, who was scheduled to watch the game in Minneapolis.
    Obama politely sidestepped the Richardson endorsement question during an appearance on CBS's "Face the Nation" Sunday morning. He was asked whether he believed the Clinton camp was trying to use the planned rendezvous as a "de facto endorsement by Bill Richardson" and whether it was a play to court the Hispanic vote.
    "He is (an) extraordinarily well-regarded governor," Obama said. "I suspect that they're going to be watching the game. That's what I'm going to be doing. So, probably for at least three hours, you're not going to see too much politics going on."
    New Mexicans tuning into the Super Bowl were to see some politicking: The Obama campaign announced it had purchased a plum TV slot during the big game to run an ad in most of the Super Tuesday states, including New Mexico.
    The final Clinton and Obama push comes on the eve of Super Tuesday, when New Mexico and 21 other states hold Democratic nominating contests that could go a long way in determining the winner of the party's presidential nomination.
    At stake in Tuesday's Democratic presidential caucus in New Mexico are 26 pledged delegates to the Democratic National Convention in August.
    Tuesday's voting will cap two weeks of frantic campaign activity by both campaigns in New Mexico. They have waged a TV ad skirmish, competed for local endorsements, sent in top surrogates to campaign on their behalf and made personal stops— Obama on Friday in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, Clinton on Saturday in Albuquerque.
    Tonight's Clinton town hall events in 22 cities, including Albuquerque, will be linked up via satellite simulcast as Clinton— speaking from one of the events in her home state of New York— rallies her backers and takes questions.
    The Albuquerque event is open to the public, and the doors open at 5:30 p.m.
    The town hall will also be streamed online at hillaryclinton.com and broadcast live on cable TV's Hallmark Channel.
    Polling Locations
    Voting sites for the New Mexico presidential caucus on Tuesday are open from noon to 7 p.m. For locations, go to nmdemocrats.org or call the Democratic Party of New Mexico at 1 (800) 624-2457 or 830-3650.