I Heart Bill Richardson

Karol Collymore

As some of you loyal Blue Oregon readers know, I’m from New Mexico – Albuquerque to be exact. To me, there is some of the best scenery, the best food and some of the best politics this country has to offer. New Mexico proudly has a majority/minority state legislature, a Hispanic governor, and several leaders of color at many levels of government. Our leaders are dynamic, to say the least. There is energy and passion in this state that I’m reminded of every time I go home. New Mexicans have elected Governor Bill Richardson with a solid majority in 2002 and again in 2006. There is a reason he has so much support in my home state and across the country: his resume is second to no other presidential candidate in this race.

Governor Richardson was a seven term congressman from New Mexico’s third district, US Ambassador to the United Nations, Secretary of Energy under Bill Clinton and continues to be a masterful international relations expert and hostage negotiator. When I worked at the Capitol one session, I was amazed that his powers of negotiation were so influential that North Korean representatives came to Santa Fe to talk to him, bypassing Washington DC and the current powers that be. Governor Richardson had an aggressive first term and continues to be a strong leader for the state.

It’s hard to get a word in edgewise with the “top three” presidential candidates commanding most of the media attention and the microphones at the massive – I call ineffective – first debates. I believe all those debates really are, are a chance for cable entertainment news to say that they were “first” in their ratings grabbing way. If you hold a presidential debate then have your spokesmodel/news anchor read from the telepromter how Paris Hilton is doing in jail during the ½ hour newsbreak, you should automatically get an FCC fine.

Governor Richardson has important things to say, more valuable and intelligent than can be rendered in a two minute sound bite. He has an excellent sense of humor, evidenced in his first web campaign commercial. Governor Richardson has a memory like a steel trap, he’s personable and warm, and had the ability to make you feel as if you’ve been a friend of his for years. Did I mention he’s bilingual?

I feel lucky that I lived and worked in New Mexico politics long enough to get witness his job performance, graced by his presence at a fundraiser I held for a candidate I worked for – my dad was SO impressed that he showed – and I got to see the real influence he has over my home state. I don’t agree with every single thing in his platform, nor do I believe in all the platform of many candidates who are Democrats.

This is also a plea for all of us smart, loyal dems to pause. Let’s take a collective breath and not just support the most electable or outwardly impressive candidate. Let’s study all our options, including Sens. Biden and Dodd. There is great experience in our field and its only June of 2007. At the end of the primary season, we’ll all work together to elect the nominee, right? I do think Bill Richardson would make an excellent president and I ask that Team Blue think about him as well.

I should add that I had and still have friends that worked or still work for the Governor in various capacities. They did not ask me to write this, but have had lots of discussions on presidential politics – that’s what friends do, preferably over green chile and margaritas.

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    I think there's a lot of love for Richardson out there--especially among the wonkosphere. If it were a different year (2004, say), his candidacy might have a real chance of catching fire. As it is, I think he'll stay in the race as a credible outlier until the primaries. If he plays his cards right, he might pick up a veep nod. He does have a tendency to athelete's mouth (the Yankees debacle on Meet the Press), which he has to avoid.

  • ellie (unverified)

    Thanks for offering your perspective on Gov. Richardson. I've been interested since I heard a few more politically knowledgable friends discuss him and then when Kari posted his ad a few weeks ago, I was further impressed. It's still early in the campaign -- I can't help but think there will be some kind of news that shakes up the the race.

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    I really like Richardson. He has a lot of experience and would bring a lot to the position.

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    Richardson screwed the pooch in the first debate. His answer to what his ideal SCOTUS pick would be like was a deal-breaker. Richardson is simply not ready for prime-time and not suitable for the big chair.

  • Stephen Fox (unverified)

    I strongly agree with Richardson’s innovative idea put forth during the New Hampshire debates, in view of the general silence among nations vis-à-vis China’s ghastly atrocities in the human rights realm, and not just about China and Darfur, but especially towards Tibetans, and especially with its dozens of prisons which for Tibetans are exactly like Auschwitz and Dachau. I posited the same idea in 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006, in correspondence to His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, and to many heads-of-state, that the moral indignation of the nations in the Olympics in Beijing in 2008 could be harnessed into at least the threat of a boycott, perhaps worded more diplomatically. Sen. Edwards clearly agreed with this point by Richardson. Make no mistake: this is probably the last chance in human history to do anything constructive about Tibet, to prevent henceforth the genocidal treatment of Tibetans remaining in Tibet, which has since 1959 seen 1.2 million Tibetans killed, roughly 20% of the entire population of Tibet. If American political powers and their pundits won’t use the remains of our powers of moral suasion in the world at large, and if we are to once again docilely capitulate to dimwitted politicians who say that the Olympics is only about sport, and not about politics, we are no better than the many nations who were oblivious to the growing obviousness of the genocide of Jews in Europe before and during World War II. Actually, the USA was for many years oblivious in this regard, all of which is thoroughly documented in Arthur Morse’s book, While Six Million Died. In that light, we think Richardson is on the right track, and even more so, when you consider the dead pets and the poisoned toothpaste from China. That is just not “about politics:” that was life and death for many, including at least 100 dead children in Panama! News: In what may be its most audacious Olympic act yet, China’s Ministry of Public Security has issued an incredible directive that lists 43 categories of unwanteds who are to be investigated and barred from the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Pariah groups include: - eerily vague “key individuals in ideological fields” - “overseas hostile forces” - “counter-revolutionary” figures - the Dalai Lama and all affiliates - members of “religious entities not sanctioned by the state” (e.g. Roman Catholics) - “individuals who instigate discontentment toward the Chinese Communist Party through the Internet,” - and even certain types of “handicapped” persons. Members of the Falun Gong would be barred, as would “family members of deceased persons” killed in “riots” — a euphemism for events such as the Tiananmen Massacre — and Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang province, which the regime brands “national separatists.” Only at the very bottom of the directive does it identify “violent terrorists” and members of “illegal organizations” as targets for investigation and possible barring.

    Stephen Fox, New Millennium Fine Art, [email protected]

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)

    Richardson isn't perfect, then again no one else is, especially those with the higher poll figures running for president. But of them all, he has the best resume and can make a reasonable claim to being the most competent. I would say Richardson for president and perhaps Edwards for vice president. Edwards could then get the education and experience he needs to hold the top job. Probably, Richardson would need all his negotiation skills to cope with the DLC to survive.

  • Chuck Butcher (unverified)

    One heck of a resume, but he needs to stand out. Hillary's standing leaves me befuddled, but she knows how to stand out.

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    I like Bill Richardson. A lot. He's got great - not merely good - credentials for the real job (as opposed to spin job) of cleaning up after Shrub.

    It would be nice to have someone real on the job.

    As was commented in the Washington Post today, when America gets around to noticing the disaster Shrub has made of our foreign relations - fully aside of Iraq, and particularly in Eastern Europe - we'll finally know how big the mess truly is.

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    Richardson was far and away my early favorite, based largely on his exceptionally broad foreign policy and diplomatic experience. However, after watching his hour with Russert on Meet The Press I am no longer interested in him. He came across as very elusive and disengenuous, dodging question after question. The farce about being both a Yankees fan and a Sox fan struck me as completely in line with how he'd handled the rest of the interview.

    Here's my thing and it's not negotiable: I'd rather vote for someone who I disagree with but trust to be honest with me than for someone saying all the right things but whom I don't feel I can trust to be honest with me. At least with the honest candidate you know where you stand. With the other candidate even the stuff that seems to jibe with your own views is suspect because it too could just be BS.

  • John Capradoe (unverified)

    He is the only one of the pack I have sent any contribution to. I would encourage folks who support candidates to send in a contribution even as little $5/mo to the ones they support. It will make a difference. We all have $50/year we should spend as we get the rebate on our Oregon Income tax. I really like the way he is running New Mexico. The area I have looked at is schools, when I was researching best practices.

  • Gil Johnson (unverified)

    The fact that a putz like Fred Thompson is getting about 50 times more news media coverage than Bill Richardson speaks volumes about the vacuity of our media. For this reason, it is only logical to support Al Gore.

  • calmnsense (unverified)

    I like Bill Richardson too, but some electoral deficiencies in the "Land of Enchantment" (see Greg Palast) and his stumbling, bumbling performances in two debates and vs. Tim Russert give me pause.

    However, three years on from his first moment in the limelight, I can find no significant blemish on Sen. Barack Obama...

  • Red Cloud (unverified)

    When you look at resumes, he has every candidate from either party beat hands down. I first saw a Richardson for President bumpber sticker in South Dakota in 2005. I don't know how he can break into the top three, coming as he does from New Mexico, and as calmnsense points out, if he did, those New Mexico deficiencies would haunt him.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)

    Here's my thing and it's not negotiable: I'd rather vote for someone who I disagree with but trust to be honest with me than for someone saying all the right things but whom I don't feel I can trust to be honest with me.

    In that case, it looks like the only two candidates who might meet your criterion would be Mike Gravel and perhaps Dennis Kucinich. On the other hand, would you want someone who might be honest but incompetent (no reference to Gravel intended or implied) running this country? I believe of all the Democratic candidates Richardson would be the best president, but I have reservations in saying that. Which doesn't say much for the quality of our choices.

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    On the other hand, would you want someone who might be honest but incompetent running this country?

    That's certainly a valid question and my answer would be a resounding no. But, competence is something that I assess prior to getting to the issue of honesty. Dubya is a classic example. Not being a Democrat or a Republican I look the entire field over and with Dubya in 2000 I never even got to the issue of his honesty or lack thereof because it was stunningly obvious to me that he was utterly unqualified for the job. History has, IMHO, proven me right on that point.

    If it were not for his hawkishness I could entertain considering Giuliani, preferring moderates/centrists as I do. Were it not for his Libertarian (read: fundamental disconnect with reality) ideology I could easily entertain considering Rep. Paul, whom I see as far and away the most honest of the bunch. As it stands right now I lean towards Edwards with Obama coming in second and Kucinich a distant third. Although I will say that I'm unsure of Obama's competence, so perhaps Kucinich ought to be second on my list.

    Bottom line: nobody has piqued my interest. It's a shame that People-powered Howard isn't running because I would join the Democratic party just to vote for him.

  • Mike in the Mountain West (unverified)

    I currently live in New Mexico and I've had an opportunity to volunteer at a couple of Richardson's fundraisers. I agree that he did not do so well in the first debate or his interview on Meet the Press (he did do better in the second debate), however in the small gatherings I've seen him at he is great. I think his issues on the national stage will go away once he has a little more experience. Plus, I'd rather have someone who has proven himself an effective executive, diplomat, and leader, but lacks a little polish and rhetorical skills than vice-versa, i.e. Obama.

  • Blueshift (unverified)

    My perfect presidential ticket would be a smart, charismatic presidential candidate who can both inspire and analyze (maybe even at the same time!), supported by a solid, brilliant VP whose credentials cannot be questioned and whose experience makes him or her a logical stand-in for the President at any domestic or ineternational function. I'm undecided about the president half of the ticket at the moment, but as for VP...Richardson is my man. I cannot imagine a wiser or more qualified individual to be a support to the President and a power behind the scenes.

    I wish him the best of luck in his Presidential campaign, but if he doesn't get the nomination, only a fool would pass over him for the VP slot.

  • susi (unverified)

    I like everything I've heard about Richardson so far and plan on contributing to his campaign.

    Richardson showed guts when he criticized the Immigration plan for ignoring family ties. Richardson also said he'd consider boycotting China's Olympics if they didn't help stop the genocide in Darfur. Most of the others cowardly backed down from even considering taking action to help the people there.

    The more I hear about Richardson, the better I like him. He also has the best experience for the job. As a former ambassador, he could really help repair the damage around the world caused by our current administration.

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    Did I mention he's negotiated hostage releases?

  • Leo XXIII (unverified)

    I too like Richardson. I hope the early election cycle will allow the big name people to screw up and fall to the side so he can move forward.

    If not, I hope who ever gets the nomination will make him VP!!

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    "I like everything I've heard about Richardson so far and plan on contributing to his campaign."

    Have you heard that his favorite SCOTUS justice was the reactionary Whizzer White, and he thought Roe V Wade was decided sometime in the 80s?

  • Susi (unverified)

    torridjoe Have you heard that his favorite SCOTUS justice was the reactionary Whizzer White, and he thought Roe V Wade was decided sometime in the 80s?

    Compared to facts like Hillary voted for the horrible Patriot Act, was a member of Walmart's BoD, and voted for the awful Bankruptcy Bill? The only reason she's able to run is that she was married to a President.

    Obama has too little experience to make him a viable candidate. I'd like to see him as VP or running in the next cycle.

    I like Joe Biden, but don't feel he has enough support.

    Richardson is the best candidate and the one I'm voting for.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)

    I like Joe Biden, but don't feel he has enough support.

    He probably doesn't have much support because many people have him pegged as a phony.

  • Grant Schott (unverified)

    I, too, like Joe Biden, and think that he is as real and candid as any of the candidates, perhaps more so.

    Richardson does have tremendous experience. He also happened to leave the Energy Dept under quite a cloud, and his time there included involvement in the Lewinsky scandal. I believe he tried to help her with employment. His victory in NM in '02 brought him back from the political grave, but he dropped out of the selection process to be Kerry's running mate for reasons unknown.

    In addition, Richardson has a tenancy to use poor judgment and misspeak. Recently on "Meet the Press, it seemed like half of Russert's question's dealt with misstatemetns that Richardson has made. I don't think BR is a winner.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)

    About a year or so ago when it was becoming too obvious to deny that Iraq was a disaster, Joe Biden was on Meet the Press when he suggested that Bush needed to speak to the nation and tell the people the facts. Until then practically every point Bush and his accomplices tried to make about Iraq had been proven to be rubbish. So, here is Biden suggesting we listen to a man whose credibility was in a slide that has continued to this day. Biden voted for the war on Iraq and ever since has been a constant supporter of military action, only now grudgingly getting around to admitting that, well, maybe things "ain't going so good."

  • Neil (unverified)

    Just to clarify, Richardson is trilingual- English, Spnaish, and French.

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    Beyond his terrible debate performances and melt-down on MTP, and the disastrous attempt to answer the SCOTUS questions I mentioned earlier... why I, as a progressive have problems with his legislative record when he was in Congress as a progressive:

    He voted against legislation that would make it a federal crime to intimidate by force or threat of force a woman seeking to obtain an abortion, or abortion clinic workers.

    He voted for an amendment to the Constitution of the United States authorizing the Congress and the States to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States (i.e. An anti “flag burning” amendment).

    He voted no on the Comprehensive Wetlands Conservation and Management Act, supported by Wyden and many other conservation-minded progressives and Democrats.

    He voted for 'don't ask, don't tell' regarding homosexuals in the military.

    He voted to adopt an amendment that prohibits federal funding from being used to distribute “obscene” material in schools that has either the purpose or effect of portraying homosexuality in a neutral or positive manner.

    He voted to adopt an amendment that bans the use of public funds to implement or enforce DC's Domestic Partners Ordinance.

    He voted for DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) which was the anti-gay bill that defines a marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.

    He voted for North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

    He voted for fast-tracking and passage of the GATT Uruguay round agreements.

    He voted to pass the mixed-bag we got sold in Clinton's Welfare Reform Act of 1996

    I actually donated money to his campaign earlier this year because of his resumé, but then I dug deeper and that put me on the bubble with him. His SCOTUS answer was just the last-straw. I would grudgingly support him if he got the nomination since anyone on the GOP would be a disaster by comparison, but he is not the great latino-hope we want or deserve as our nominee.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)

    Thanks for the research, lestadelc. I knew Richardson had negatives but not that bad. It looks like the best we can say for him is that he is the least of the evils likely to have a chance at reaching the presidency. To your list we can add his very questionable conduct as energy secretary during the Wen Ho Lee injustice.

  • dj (unverified)

    Another bit of history - He was also involved in undermining the Endangered Species Act when push came to shove over excessive water diversions drying up fish habitat in the Rio Grande River. He got together with Pete Domenici to waive application of the ESA in the Rio Grande Basin with respect to water issues in the river.

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