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CHAPEL HILL ó Dr. Dick Richardson predicts the Democratic National Convention this August in Denver will be a “bloody event.”
He couldn’t be more thrilled.
Richardson, a former professor of political science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, spoke to alumni recently about politics over the last 25 years.
If you’d been asleep in that time period, Richardson said, “I think you’re waking up in the midst of the most exciting election of our generation. We’ve never had anything like what’s happening now.”
Richardson discussed the rise of the superdelegates, and the fact that there aren’t enough delegates left for either candidate to secure the Democratic presidential nomination. “We’re going to Denver with the likelihood that the vote will be decided by the superdelegates,” he said. “This is a train wreck.”
On the one hand are the delegates, he said, but on the other hand is the popular vote.
“Talk about a meltdown,” Richardson said. “We are going to be in a very difficult situation.”
Richardson did predict an Obama-Clinton ticket ó he just doesn’t know in what order.
In the event of a superdelegate standoff, he said, there could be a mass exodus from the party. “So this is a very exciting time,” he said.
Another issue is the fracture of conservatism in the Republican party. It began, he said, when Pat Robertson endorsed Rudy Giuliani. “When that break began, they began to fracture in many different directions,” Richardson said.
John McCain, he said, is a very conservative candidate ó on the party’s old issues: taxes, campaign finance, the Supreme Court. But he’s “potentially traitorous” on other issues.
Richardson noted that during elections, candidates tend to move toward the center, to draw their parties together. A perfect example of this, he said, was Bill Clinton.
McCain garnered the nominations without conservatives.
“Does he have to move to the right in order to capture his conservative base?” Richardson asked. “Where does he position himself? The conservatives have nowhere else to go. They’re not gonna vote for Hillary.”
Conservatives, he said, will probably “hold their noses” and vote for McCain.
A possible way to win conservative votes for McCain, he said, would be to select Mike Huckabee as his vice president.
Richardson noted the tremendous cost of the 2008 election.
“It’s spiraling out of control,” he said. “It’s like an extension of the NFL season ó we love competition so much.”
Richardson spoke of John Edwards, former presidential candidate who was pushed out of the “fair-haired boy” spot by Obama.
“He wasn’t the fresh face,” Richardson said. “It’s very difficult to have to move over.”
Although his campaign was “extraordinarily well planned,” Richardson said, “the message didn’t fit the message.”
Richardson noted that Edwards had not endorsed either candidate yet. “He was a very passionate candidate,” he said, “But it hasn’t worked out.”
Turning to the primaries, Richardson said that North Carolina “is more important than it’s ever been. We’ve never had that kind of attention at all. If Obama can get his machinery down here, he’ll win. But it won’t be a slam dunk by any means.”
He predicted that Clinton will win Pennsylvania, because of her appeal to older voters.
Richardson also discussed the Supreme Court, which has been steadily ó albeit slowly ó moving to the right. “It’s taken 50 years,” he said, “but the conservatives have almost captured the Supreme Court. This has taken forever.”
Richardson recalled that in 1952, President Eisenhower appointed Earl Warren to the high court. “Since then, the court has been pulled off its Warrenesque liberal direction,” Richardson said.
Richardson said that President George W. Bush’s most enduring legacy would be his two Supreme Court nominees: Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justice Samuel Alito. “This has crystallized and stabilized a conservative court,” he said.
Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas are “solid conservatives.” Justice Anthony Kennedy, courted by both sides, is at the center.
“They’ve almost got him,” Richardson said.
At 84, Justice John Paul Stevens remains the vanguard liberal voice.
“He’s older than I am,” Richardson quipped. “He’s holding on until the election.”
– – –
Contact Susan Shinn at 704-797-4289 or sshinn@salisburypost.com.

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