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Richardson Enters 2008 Presidential Race

Richardson Enters 2008 Presidential RaceThe New Mexico governor and Tufts graduate hopes his domestic and diplomatic credentials can propel him into the White House.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [01.22.07] New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, the Tufts graduate who has racked up a long resume of government experience both domestic and diplomatic, is forming an exploratory committee to campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.

"Our next President must be able to bring a country together that is divided and partisan," Richardson (A'70, F'71) said in a statement. "It is clear that Washington is broken and it's going to take a return to bipartisanship and simple respect for each other's views to get it fixed."

This past November, he won a second term as governor with 69 percent of the vote, enjoying wide support in his home state.

"With a national electorate that obviously embraced changes last November, Richardson may prove to be exactly what this country is looking for in its next president and commander-in-chief," said an editorial in the Albuquerque Tribune.

The former United Nations ambassador, who has a master's degree from The Fletcher School, has participated in several diplomatic missions, brokering a cease-fire in Sudan on behalf of the Save Darfur coalition and holding talks with North Korea to curb its nuclear ambitions.

Richardson also favors withdrawal of troops from Iraq, an effort he said on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos should include the opening of dialogue with Iran and Syria, reconciliation talks for the country's major ethnic factions and bolstered efforts on security and reconstruction.

Richardson served in Congress for 15 years before he was named President Bill Clinton's Secretary of Energy in 1998, and he has continued to trumpet energy issues.

"If we're going to be energy-independent it's going to take a man-on-the-moon effort," he said on This Week. "The president has to inspire the American people to conserve, to find ways to sacrifice together to invest in renewable technologies."

Richardson, a standout baseball player as an undergraduate at Tufts, is recalled as a student who showed strong leadership promise.

"He was somebody you just paid attention to," Professor Sol Gittleman, who once had Richardson as a student, told the Albuquerque Journal. "He was an attractive young guy."

"More than one time we said, 'He's going to be president of the United States one day,' '' Richardson's fraternity brother and fellow Tufts graduate David Swett (A'70) recalled to the Journal. "He's very charismatic when you get to know him, and he's a very successful kind of guy. Whatever he puts his heart and mind to, he's good at."

Richardson, who is Hispanic, enters a diverse candidate field that already boasts a female candidate, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), and an African-American, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.). If elected, Richardson would be the first Hispanic president.

"I believe this country is a very tolerant, positive country," he said on This Week. "I believe the country would be ready for a woman president, an African American president, Hispanic president, but I wouldn't run as a Hispanic candidate. I would run as an American, proud to be Hispanic, proud of my heritage."

The New Mexico governor also emphasized his Western roots, noting that "you need a candidate that can win in all regions of the country."

"The West is a region that is changing. It's a dynamic region," he told This Week. "This is a new area that is fertile for the Democratic party."

In citing successes at both his governor's desk and the negotiation table, Richardson believes he makes an attractive option for voters looking for change.

"A lot of these folks can make speeches about all these things," he said on This Week. "I've actually done it."

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