Richardson supporter in tears


Yolanda Muro knew the odds were long for Bill Richardson to win the Democratic nomination for president.

She had seen the same polls as everyone else, showing the New Mexico governor in the single digits, well behind Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards.

But Muro had overcome the longest of odds, and she decided what Richardson had to offer -- experience unmatched by any of the other candidates -- was worth fighting for.

For months she limped around the Richardson campaign office in downtown Las Vegas with a smile on her face. She spent parts of every day, evenings and many weekends looking over precinct maps, trying to find yet another voter to phone on behalf of Richardson.

She had steeled herself for the uphill campaign by remembering her own struggles.

Her left leg, arm and hand were crippled by polio, but that didn't affect her enthusiasm.

It was the first campaign the family therapist had ever volunteered to work on. She was sure she could make a difference.

"After I contracted polio from the vaccine, my parents were told the odds of it happening had been 5 million-to-1," she says. "I know all about long odds."

And what were the odds, she wondered, that an immigrant girl from a Mexican family with little money -- she has nine brothers and sisters -- would get to live in a country where government programs provided free surgery after free surgery so she would be able to walk.

Her volunteer work on the campaign was nowhere near as tough as what she had been through as a teenager and young woman.

She was painfully shy, a result of wearing ugly corrective shoes and braces. Yet she overcame that to marry the love of her life, Las Vegas internist Dr. Victor Muro.

Doctors hadn't been sure she could carry a baby to term.

Her daughter, Elyssa, is now 10.

The 39-year-old shared her thoughts about Richardson with strangers, arguing politely that his experience as a congressman, governor, U.N. ambassador and energy secretary was just what the country needed to deal with an unpopular war and a sputtering economy.

The people she talked to seemed to be impressed. But the polls never moved.

When Richardson dropped out of the race last week after lackluster showings in Iowa and New Hampshire, Muro cried.

"To really be in the game you need money, money, money," she says. "Obama and Clinton had paid staffs to do canvassing, and we tried to make up for it with grass roots. It wasn't enough."

She says it's too early to choose another candidate.

"I'll participate in the caucus, but right now I'm in mourning. I thought I already had the perfect candidate for America."

 

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