The Body Man takes a punch to the kidneys

Buried deep in a NYT feature on New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson this past weekend was this nugget (reg. req.):

As the day was winding down, Richardson sat in the front of his S.U.V., munching on chicharrones and harrassing one of his media people for proposing a photo op on a lake he, rather unpopularly, ordered partially drained. ''Forget it,'' the governor barked. ''They hate me out there.'' Then he looked at me and rolled his eyes. ''This is my communications staff. This is positive image-building. I can't wait for the next big idea.''

When it comes to the media, no one is shrewder in the Democratic Party than Richardson. In the end, that may be his biggest contribution to the 2004 election. The role of convention chairman is largely as talking head, master of ceremonies and (if need be) one-man rapid-response team, and this role is ideal for both Richardson and the party. Compared with the Republicans, who run a well-oiled media machine, the Democrats are disastrously bad at P.R. They're dull. Defensive. Chaotic.

Richardson, on the other hand, is the Democratic answer to John McCain. He says pretty much what he's thinking. Candor for him is both schtick and real. Several times a day, he beckons his assistant to come over and touch up his makeup in order to make him camera-ready; his press people carry extra foundation in their bags. They estimate that he gets three requests from the national news media per day, as well as one from the Spanish-language media.

Speaking of "body men," maybe you missed the NYT article on Kerry's "Chief of Stuff," Marvin Nicholson. The Taipei Times has reprinted it, so you don't have to register with the NYT.

And here's an article about the body man for Gray Davis - when he was Lieutenant Governor of California.