After a performance in Thursday night's HRC/Logo presidential forum in Los Angeles that was universally panned by media outlets including NPR and The New York Times, New Mexico governor Bill Richardson requested an interview with The Advocate to explain what he was thinking when he said that being gay was a "choice" versus a biological predisposition.
Richardson clearly wanted to make amends with the gays and lesbians, but he seemed beleaguered after a long day of trying to heal the wounds left by last night's forum. Perhaps the most illuminating part of our 20-minute interview at The Advocate's offices came at the end, during informal banter as the governor prepared to leave. Referring back to a question I'd asked earlier in the interview about his possible lack of empathy for a fundamental LGBT concern, he asked, "But you think I didn't come across with much empathy [last night]?" It was a rare, humanizing comment from a presidential candidate who was clearly grappling with the chasm between how he sees himself versus how others view him—in this case, gay and lesbian voters.
Read Eleveld's full interview with Governor Richardson here.
LSB: While the Governor attempts to explain away his remarks, he creates another problem for himself in his response to this exchange:
He was "goaded" into it? What is this - the sixth grade? Somebody else made him do it? Should the leader of the free world be so spinless that he can be "goaded" into saying something he doesn't want to say? Do we want a President who can be "goaded" into doing something he doesn't want to do by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran or Kim Jong-il of North Korea? This is more troublesome than his use of the Spanish word for faggot.
Q: Regarding the maricón comment you made on the Don Imus show, the native Spanish speakers I've asked all say it's a derogatory term for gays. But you've indicated that maricón is just a term for homosexuality and doesn't have a negative connotation. Do you want to clarify?
A: I also said I shouldn't have used that word. It was at the end of an interview and I was goaded into doing that, and I shouldn't have said it. But in my day, and I'm older than most, there was no such word as faggot. It was more in the sense of being demeaning to someone, more of a pejorative term that was not given the connotation that it has now. But if you look at the transcript of that show, I was goaded into saying it because Imus was trying to stipulate that I'm Hispanic. It was wrong and I apologize.