Sunday, November 11, 2007

Unser boys In Richardson's Pit Crew

DES MOINES -- With the Unser boys, winners of seven Indianapolis 500s, standing beside him at a pre-Jefferson-Jackson Dinner rally, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson gave several hundred supporters some assurances.

"Neither one of the Unsers will be advising me on fuel-efficiency standards," Richardson, a Democratic candidate for the presidency, joked.

Al Unser Sr. and Bobby Unser Sr. are part of what Richardson called New Mexico's "most prominent family."

"He has done so much for New Mexico," Bobby Unser said. "He's the first good governor we've had in 50 years."

The Unsers were joined at the rally on the ground floor of the Quality Inn a few blocks northeast of the Iowa Events Center by John Early, a Vietnam veteran who went on to pilot for the International Red Cross in the Sudan where he was captured.

Richardson, as a Democratic congressman, personally went to Sudan to work out arrangements for Early and others to leave.

On the stage with racing legends and backing a candidate known for his humor, it was Early who stole the show, first noting with grave seriousness that Richardson had saved his life.

"Bill Richardson is a guy who can walk the walk," Early said.

Early talked about the surreal experience of being held by teen-age soldiers in a foreign land.

"The only thing more frightening than a 14-year-old boy with an AK-47 is a 16-year-old girl with a credit card," Early said, bringing down the house. Even reporters were laughing at that one.

Early then got off this blast about the Bush Administration:

"Right now our country is being run by a gaggle of fools and that's coming from a guy who voted for Nixon," Early, a former Green Beret, said.

For his part, in brief remarks, Richardson said he would restore the nation's standing in the world, making America "not the policeman but the conscience of the world."

This story is crossposted at Iowa and is reprinted in Spanish in La Prensa.

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