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Is Antonio Villaraigosa Ready for His Closeup?

He's been all over the tube schmoozing political reporters. What are news reports and the blogosphere saying about him?

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."

Really?

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What do you think? Here's a sampling of recent Twitter tweets.

Tim Miller ‏@Timodc

Mayor @Villaraigosa gave Obama an "A for Effort" to BBC. He then awarded President Obama this. http://goo.gl/rDukG

Latino Political Ave ‏@LatPoliticalAve

Villaraigosa seizes moment in spotlight http://tinyurl.com/42hs293

TriciaNC ‏@TriciaNC1

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

Tim Miller ‏@Timodc

.@villaraigosa gives Obama an "A for Effort." Also awards him a cookie and extended recess.

Ana Navarro ‏@ananavarro

1st thing @villaraigosa does when speaks, call #Dreamers in room to stage. Villaraigosa is very, very good at understanding human emotion

Noam Scheiber ‏@noamscheiber

Awkward quip from villaraigosa at conf of mayors event: said mayor nutters wife Lisa is here to "keep him in line." Hmmm.

Eliminate Prejudice ‏@elimin8prejudic

Villaraigosa: GOP Platform “From another Century” | @HRCNews http://goo.gl/VKFl6

Jeannie ★ ‏@jeanniemcbride

DNC Chairman Villaraigosa's Extremist Past http://shar.es/7TswX

NPR's Tell Me More ‏@TellMeMoreNPR

Mayor @Villaraigosa #nprdnc “this will be the most diverse convention in history – either party"

Mariana Atencio ‏@marianaatencio

Shadowing #DNC2012 chair, Mayor @Villaraigosa for@UniNewsPolitics @UnivisionNews http://pic.twitter.com/v1vsW8fl

TruthTeam2012 ‏@truthteam2012

“It looks like it’s from another century.”—@villaraigosa on the Republican platform: http://OFA.BO/5ud27L

Zookeeper91326 September 06, 2012 at 06:49 AM
You're so right. What was the DNC thinking???
The MOG September 06, 2012 at 07:09 AM
I think a lot of it was a kind of reverse racism, if that's the word for it. People became excited about voting for the 1st Mexican Mayor in ages, so. They way I see it, on the Nation level, the president was elected for the same, raced based perspective. Only in the case of Pres. Obama, people got all dewy-eyed about electing the 1st Black. Even though he's not really black. There's no shame in being mulatto. It's cool! So, why call yourself something your not? Does he really think he's black. The KKK claim your black, even if your hair is yellow, & your skin is lite, if you have just a drop of "black" blood. You see? It sounds racist to me. The Mayor is American, NOT Mexican. A dz years ago, I volunteered in 1CD race for the candidate who ran against the current councilman. I can't tell you how sorry I am, that working the phone banks, I found that the most important thing for these voters was not issues, but race. They all wanted to know if my guy was Mexican. My reply was, " No, he's American." I don't like this Raza Business. I think it's ugly, and La Raza are the Mayors no. 1 supporters. That's his crowd, and those are his people. It's true, liberal democratic policies are responcible for our "mess" in L.A. Just like the '92 Riot was the cap off to the Bradley years. In retrospect, during the Yorty years this city was effecently managed, with attractive nieghborhoods, & a fiscally responcible city government. We were once a premere City. Look at it now, after them!
Joseph September 06, 2012 at 03:00 PM
I strongly dislike that guy. Such a sell out and inadequite to help L.A. in anyway.
V. Scheurich September 13, 2012 at 07:32 PM
10 of the richest members in Congress. Imagine this, 7 of them are .........Democrats! http://www.independentsentinel.com/2012/09/those-rich-republicans-revealed-by-is/
Marcus September 13, 2012 at 09:05 PM
Interesting statistic - it just goes to show you can be incredibly rich and still have concern for the welfare of the other citizens in the country. I don't see these Dems voting Republican tax policy any time soon.

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