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Running The Show

Running The ShowThe2004 Democratic National Convention is a homecoming for Tuftsgraduate Bill Richardson, who returns to Boston to chair the event. Boston.

Boston [07.26.04] For the next four days, Boston will be at the center of the political universe as thousands of delegates, celebrities, media and Democratic heavyweights descend on the city for the Democratic National Convention. For Tufts graduate Bill Richardson - who has been overseeing the event preparation for months as convention chair - the week-long event marks both a homecoming and a new stage in his celebrated political career.

"I will be all over Boston," Richardson told the Boston Globe. "I'm looking forward to it. I like the personal side of politics, the grass-roots nature. That's way I like [Boston Mayor Thomas M.] Menino a lot - and my poll numbers are as high as his."

Chairing the 2004 Convention has given Richardson many opportunities to return "home" to Boston, where he earned undergraduate and Fletcher degrees from Tufts before moving to New Mexico in 1978 to begin his political career. Now governor of New Mexico, he has been making regular trips to Boston - usually coinciding with a Red Sox home game - for months prior to the convention.

"He will put his stamp on the convention, unquestionably," Lynn G. Cutler, a veteran democrat who has known Richardson for more than 20 years, told the Globe. "He is one of the larger-than-life figures in our party. He will help with all the tense moments."

The convention - which is tailored to the theme "Strong At Home, Respected in the World" - is sure to be historic in part because of the Tufts graduate's leadership.

"As the first convention of a major political party to be chaired by a Latino it is also a historic event for the nation," reported the Globe.

Convention chair isn't the only role Richardson has played in this highly-charged election. For several months, the Tufts graduate was regularly named as a leading contender for vice president - making the short list of people Kerry interviewed before choosing his running mate.

Elizabeth Edwards said she and her husband John breathed a sigh of relief upon hearing that Richardson had bowed out of the competition for the vice presidential slot days before the announcement.

"We have to admit that a few days before this selection process, Governor Richardson graciously took himself out, and we went, 'Whew!'" she told The Washington Post.

Instead, Richardson has focused on bringing the party together in support of the Kerry/Edwards ticket.

"The 2004 Democratic Convention will tell the life stories of John Kerry and John Edwards to the nation - the story of their lifetime of service to the nation and fight for average Americans, and their vision for a stronger and more secure America," Richardson told reporters last week. "This convention will showcase the team that Americans can trust to always be on their side to achieve that goal."

The Tufts graduate will address the convention on Wednesday, July 28 - a day scheduled to concentrate on national security. Presumed vice presidential nominee Sen. John Edwards will also speak.

"I just simply want to say this is the most unified convention the Democratic Party has ever had," Richardson told United Press International on the eve of opening day.

Richardson is the right man for the job, says John Baronian, a Tufts graduate and trustee who knew Richardson when he was an undergraduate at Tufts.

"You meet him once, and you'd think you'd known him all your life," Baronian told the Globe. "You can't help but like him."

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