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Richardson Withdraws From Presidential Race

Richardson Withdraws From Presidential RaceAfter two tough losses in the opening rounds of primary season, Tufts graduate and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson is ending his campaign for president.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [01.15.08] With humorous campaign ads depicting himself as an overqualified job applicant, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson entered the 2008 presidential race with a down-to-earth attitude while still touting his extensive domestic and foreign policy experience. But after falling short in the first two contests, the Tufts graduate and trustee is withdrawing from the race.

"Despite overwhelming financial and political odds, I am proud of the campaign we waged and the influence we had on the issues that matter most to the future of this country," he said in a statement released Jan. 10.

Richardson, who earned an undergraduate degree from Tufts in 1970 and a master's from The Fletcher School in 1971, previously served as a U.S. congressman, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and Secretary of Energy. He is also known as a successful negotiator, securing the release of hostages and political prisoners in North Korea, Iraq, and Cuba, and helping to broker a cease-fire in Darfur, Sudan.

Richardson, who is Hispanic, complemented the most diverse candidate field in American history, which includes Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.). In withdrawing from the race, he did not endorse any one of the remaining candidates, encouraging voters to "take a long and thoughtful look" at them.

The 60-year-old governor finished fourth in both the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary, behind Clinton, Obama and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards. He drew praise from his fellow candidates.

"He was a very good candidate, a serious candidate," Edwards told reporters in South Carolina before Richardson officially announced his withdrawal. "He ran a good race. I congratulate him. He ought to be proud of what he's done."

Though his presidential campaign was not successful, it could raise his profile for future political opportunities. In 2010, under New Mexico's term limits, Richardson will yield the governor's office, a position he called "the best job in the world."

Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist John L. Smith said that by withdrawing "in style," the New Mexico governor "is sure to remind some political observers that the experienced Richardson wouldn't be a bad selection as a vice presidential running mate."

Richardson's campaign staffers expressed disappointment that he has bowed out of the race but optimism about his impact on the process.

"I'm very proud to have been a part of this, sad that [Richardson] won't be able to share his vision any longer, but happy that strands of his vision have become a part of other people's visions," Roberta Lange, director of Richardson's campaign efforts in Nevada, told the Las Vegas Sun.

John Nichols, a political blogger for The Nation, said that Richardson's presence in the race will missed.

"Richardson will be missed by those who wanted a more meaningful contest," he wrote. "His willingness as an upper-tier candidate to embrace a timeline for bringing the troops home from Iraq forced other candidates, particularly former North Carolina Senator John Edwards, to adopt blunter positions. And his presence in the debates forced the discussion of international issues to go deeper than it will from here on out."

Despite giving up his campaign, the Tufts graduate and trustee remains upbeat.

"I just got to run for president of the United States," he said in his statement. "It doesn't get any better than that."

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