The glare of the television spotlight has landed on Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, but is he ready for his closeup?
Villaraigosa, 59, who has never met a camera he didn't like, has brought his broad smile to Charlotte, NC, as chairman of the Democratic National Convention. He's termed-out as Los Angeles' mayor and now he's on the national stage, flogging the re-election bid of President Barack Obama.
He's been all over the tube schmoozing reporters. But while he is otherwise occupied and absent, Los Angeles is on the verge of going broke. There's an awful lot of running going on. Just who is the candidate here?
"I think it's important to have a little bit about who you are. Most people don't know who the mayor of Los Angeles is, or the chairman of the [convention], so it's important to have a little biography, how that life brought me where I am today..." he told the Los Angeles Times.
He'll get six minutes in the great hall Thursday to let eveyone know. But is the public ready for what he told Politico: “I’m a Democrat with a small ‘d.’ I believe very strongly in what I call the radical center,” said Villaraigosa. “I believe that the President is moving down that path.”
That doesn't sound like the same drum the President is beating.
Well, maybe. The Daily News quotes Raphael Sonenshein, director of the Pat Brown Institute of Public Affairs at Cal State Los Angeles, this way: "He clearly has made up any lost ground he had in 2008 and is now on the A team with the President," Sonenshein said. "He will be the principal speaker as far as Latinos are concerned.
"And the way the election is looking, he will be playing a valuable role for the President in the Southwest and Florida to get out the Latino vote."
But Villaraigosa, who had to learn Spanish as a second language and burned through a marriage and two TV-reporter girlfriends, carries a lot of personal baggage with him as he tries to raise his national profile. He clearly wants to be in the front of the line when Obama starts picking players for his second-term team.
And he joins "Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and Attorney General Kamala Harris at the top of a list of Democrats considered likely contenders for governor or U.S. Senate," reports the Sacramento Bee.
USC's Sherry Bebitch Jeffe weighs-in at Fox & Hounds saying "Should the President win re-election, he’ll owe something to the Latino vote, and L.A.’s Mayor is working hard on that. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has already announced he’s leaving and it’s in transportation that Villaraigosa has had some of his major successes."
"It would have been really easy to write him off a couple of years ago," Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California told the Bee. "But now you'd have to consider him as one of the next generation of potential leaders of California."
Is he interested in even higher office? Villaraigosa told the Des Moines Register that he’s “looking to finish my job the way I started, with a bang. I’m working ’til 11:59:59 on June 30 and then I’m riding into the sunset for a while."
What do you think? Here's a sampling of recent Twitter tweets.
Villaraigosa seizes moment in spotlight http://tinyurl.com/42hs293
Fail: Antonio Villaraigosa goes on Al Punto, can’t answer whether we are better off today than 4 years ago http://hotair.com/greenroom/archives/2012/09/04/fail-antonio-villaraigosa-goes-on-al-punto-cant-answer-whether-we-are-better-off-today-than-4-years-ago/ #p2 #latism
.@villaraigosa gives Obama an "A for Effort." Also awards him a cookie and extended recess.
Awkward quip from villaraigosa at conf of mayors event: said mayor nutters wife Lisa is here to "keep him in line." Hmmm.
DNC Chairman Villaraigosa's Extremist Past http://shar.es/7TswX