Governor Bill Richardson just finished being interviewed by Jon Stewart. He did okay. Those types of interviews are hard; the host is always trying to get his jokes in, they're disjointed, talking past each other.
At one point Stewart mentioned Richardson's resume, which is extensive and impressive to hear, and then asked, "so what's the secret that will derail your campaign?" That's the type of question that makes Stewart and The Daily Show so effective. It's a funny question, delivered irreverently and it sounds, on its surface, like a gentle poke at the pitfalls of running for high office. Stewart could have asked that of every candidate on the show.
But he hasn't. Jon Stewart asked Bill Richardson
about it, because Stewart does his homework, he keeps abreast - probably not personally - of what the dirty bloggers are saying, and he has a great talent for innocent-sounding questions that take the chair right out from under the other guy's butt. Richardson didn't see it coming, and for a second there I thought the interview was going to go sour. In a further show of how much it threw him off, Richardson just bluntly and awkwardly changed the subject to his poll numbers, which was a bad idea. He obviously had prepared self-deprecating answers for questions about his standing in the polls, and he backed himself into a corner where he had to supply the punchline for jokes that hadn't even been set up. Again, Governor, the way to avoid all this is to address the issue head on. Obviously TDS isn't the best forum for that, but the next time it comes up, deal with it.
The best moments came at the end when he told the story of meeting with Saddam Hussein to negotiate the release of 2 American citizens from prison around 10 years ago. Great story, well told, very effective, especially the part when the guards jumped him for touching Saddam. More than anything else, the story showed him as a man who gets things done.
The key image coming out of Richardson's performance is what a great VP pick he would be for whoever gets the nomination. Richardson was right; he's no rock star. But the smart Democratic nominee will choose him as running mate, and if elected will appoint a younger, lesser person as Secretary of State and let Richardson pretty much run US diplomacy.
I'll stick the video clip up tomorrow morning, and point out the timestamp of Stewart's zinger.
Of course Comedy Central doesn't include a timer. No matter, the question comes up quite early. It really shows the danger of the candidate being highly scripted when the interviewer is not. TDS isn't the same as other shows; even Leno and Letterman are going to more closely follow standard interview formats than Stewart.