DNC Day 2 – Morning Report: Hanging with the delegates

DENVER – New Mexico’s electoral importance in the race for the presidency has earned the New Mexico delegation some high-profile guests for breakfast at the Democratic National Convention.

High-profile Republican T. Boone Pickens surprised the New Mexico delegation early today by stopping by the official delegate breakfast at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Downtown Denver.

The visit follows Monday’s appearance at the New Mexico delegate breakfast by former Denver mayor and U.S. Transportation Secretary Federico Pena and CNN commentator and Democratic strategist Donna Brazile.

And New Mexico delegates were buzzing about a rumor that Hillary Clinton may pay them a visit Thursday.

Today the Texas oilman presented his much-publicized alternative energy plan to the New Mexicans, who listened politely, said delegate and New Mexico State Auditor Hector Balderas.

“I didn’t know he was going to be here,” said Balderas.

“He made a little joke about being a Republican.”

Balderas said Pickens touted his plan as getting America off oil dependency even sooner than the plans floated by Al Gore and other Democrats.

In addition to the state’s 38-member delegation, an unusually-large number of New Mexicans have come to Denver for the convention, said Balderas.

Two major factors are probably at play, he said. The geographic closeness of Denver is one, and the fact that New Mexico is considered such an important swing state is another.

New Mexico’s electoral importance is probably the reason for the all of the wooing that’s been going on at the delegate breakfasts, said Balderas.

Former TVI president Ted Martinez of Albuquerque was one of the many New Mexicans who drove to Denver for the convention to be with the delegates.

He traveled with former U.S. Sen. Fred Harris and his wife, LaDonna Harris. Martinez is not a delegate – the badge around his neck designates him an “Honored Guest.”

But he’s relishing the experience anyway, attending all the official events and hanging out on the convention floor.

New Mexico’s importance in the election has not been lost on the national media, said Balderas. The national networks have been swarming New Mexicans for interviews.

Balderas was interviewed on MTV last night for a news program that should air tonight, he said.

ABC News online asked superdelegate Laurie Weahkee to film a video convention diary for broadcast online.

And University of New Mexico political science professor (and New Mexico Independent convention correspondent) Christine Sierra was interviewed by Mo Rocca of “The Daily Show.”

At the convention itself tonight, it will be New Mexico’s time to shine.

Congressman and U.S. Senate candidate Tom Udall will speak at about 5:30 p.m., and Gov. Bill Richardson will speak at 8 p.m.

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