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Richardson's Secret Weapon: The Bolo Tie

Make no mistake about it: New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, an underdog in the Democratic presidential primary field, was pandering to Sunbelt voters when he signed a bill into law Tuesday making the bolo tie his state's official neckwear.

Gov. Bill Richardson
Democrat Bill Richardson is courting the bolo tie lovers of America. (Getty Images)

Just ask Richardson himself. We did, and he fessed up in an e-mail exchange with the Sleuth.

"Absolutely. Hey, I'm at 4%, I need all the help I can get," joked Richardson, a former member of the U.S. House, not to mention energy secretary and U.N. ambassador in the Clinton administration.

But on a serious note -- and let's face it, the bolo tie is no joking matter -- Richardson said, "it's an important tradition and a part of New Mexico's culture. This is a salute to a great southwestern symbol."

And how will it go over if other Democratic presidential candidates show up in the Sunbelt sporting bolo ties? What if Hillary Rodham Clinton feels the need to counter Richardson's bolo play? After all, if she can go to the South and talk Southern, what's to stop her from heading West and going bolo?

"I'm sure she'd look terrific in a bolo," said Richardson. "I'd wear one if I were her."

But Richardson, ever the shrewd politician, wouldn't bite on the question of which candidates would best carry off the bolo look.

"The great thing about bolos is that anyone can wear them. Some people carry it off better than others," he said.

But don't expect Richardson's bolo tie to become a signature on the campaign trail the way, say, Paul Simon's bow tie was during the 1988 presidential campaign. The governor isn't "bolo-centric" the way Simon was "bow-centric."

Nor will Richardson, who donned a huge turquoise bolo during the bill signing ceremony in Santa Fe, make the bolo tie an icon of the White House should he go on to win the presidency.

"Count on it for certain occasions," Richardson told The Sleuth. "You can take the boy out of the country, but not the country out of the boy."

By Mary Ann Akers  |  March 14, 2007; 12:30 PM ET
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