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Another candidate entered the race for the Democratic nomination for President in 2008 today, even if few notice it. The splashy entry of Hillary Clinton yesterday overshadowed the announcement of New Mexico governor Bill Richardson today:
Gov. Bill Richardson, D-N.M., said Sunday he is taking the first step toward an expected White House run in 2008, offering extensive experience in Washington and the world stage as he seeks to become the first Hispanic president.
"I am taking this step because we have to repair the damage that's been done to our country over the last six years," said Richardson, a former congressman, U.N. ambassador and Energy Department secretary.
"Our reputation in the world is diminished, our economy has languished, and civility and common decency in government has perished," he said in a statement.
This should be the candidate that really worries the Republicans in 2008. Hillary sucks up most of the oxygen, and Barack Obama gets most of the headlines, and John Edwards keeps gathering the crumbs left behind. Bill Richardson has more credibility and better credentials than all three put together, and has managed to stay below the radar of the more bitter partisan fights of the last fourteen years.
Richardson has an impressive resumé. He worked in the State Department as a Congressional liaison after college, and afterwards worked as a staffer for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He spent 14 years in Congress representing New Mexico, starting in 1980, mostly focusing on foreign affairs. He moved from that position to the leadership of the Democratic Party, working with Bill Clinton on bolstering the party's credibility with the center. Clinton appointed him as ambassador to the UN, where he served a year, and then as the Secretary of Energy from 1998 until Clinton's term ended. In 2002, he ran for and won office as governor of New Mexico, winning re-election last year.
This gives Richardson an incredible amount of applicable experience for the Presidency. He has extensive foreign-affairs experience; he has plenty of contacts in Congress and a long history of working between the legislative and executive branches; and most of all, he has solid executive experience that all of the other main candidates for the nomination lack. In fact, compared to Richardson, the rest of the pack look like amatuers playing at national politics.
That isn't to say that Richardson will lack for problems in his run. The Wen Ho Lee scandal occurred on his watch at Energy, where the Chinese scientist improperly retained classified material related to nuclear-weapons technology. A federal judge in the summer of 2005 accused Richardson of being the official that leaked Lee's name to the media. Less importantly but still an embarrassment, Richardson claimed for decades to have been selected in the Major League Baseball amateur draft in 1966, a claim that was disproven a few years ago.
However, the Democrats have a candidate with much more credibility than Hillary, Obama, and Edwards on deck, if you'll pardon the pun, and one that could garner considerable votes from centrists -- and perhaps even a few Republicans, depending on who gets the nomination for the GOP. If the Democrats nominate Richardson and the Republicans nominate a colid social conservative, Richardson could be attractive to the more liberal, Giuliani-style Republicans. Like Joe Lieberman in 2004, he is the type of Democrat some Republicans could endorse -- unlike Hillary, Obama, and Edwards.
Like 2004, however, the Democrats will almost certainly throw the opportunity away, and Richardson will get as lost in the shuffle as his announcement did today.Sphere It View blog reactions
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