- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 6, 2005

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democrat, may never have seen a campaign he didn’t like — his own appointive and elective successes prove that — but ambition is catnip to Washington insiders of every political stripe. So, in many ways, guests at Saturday’s reception given in his honor by Thomas F. “Mack” McLarty and his wife Donna in their Kalorama home resembled a presidential cheering squad.

Ostensibly, the occasion was a party to celebrate the publication of Mr. Richardson’s autobiography, “Between Worlds: The Making Of An American Life,” of which the governor, with great charm, said he had not written a single word. Instead, he gave full credit to writer and reporter Michael Ruby, whose name is on the spine in tiny letters. The two men spent a year tape-recording discussions for material that Mr. Ruby then made into a book.

“He’s an irresistible personality,” said Mr. Ruby privately, echoing the observations of others present — including former Reagan White House Chief of Staff Ken Duberstein — who volunteered praise for Mr. Richardson’s impressive career and deft way with people.

What better explains the “drop-by” attendance of a large number of high-profile Washingtonians, including intelligence czar John Negroponte, Rep. Tom Udall, New Mexico Democrat, NBC’s Tim Russert, PBS’ Margaret Warner, photographer Diana Walker, attorney Bob Barnett and wife Rita Braver, Motion Picture Association President Dan Glickman, Chris and Kathleen Matthews and even the new ambassador from South Korea, Lee Tae-sik.

“It’s almost a Clinton White House reunion,” observed Melanne Verveer, assistant to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton when she was first lady.

Mr. Richardson’s impressive resume includes serving as a member of Congress for 14 years as well as energy secretary and U.N. ambassador. In between public service jobs, he also worked for two years as part of the international relations’ consulting firm run by Mr. McLarty, the former Clinton White House chief of staff, and former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger.

“He was elected [governor] in 2002 with the largest majority in New Mexico since 1964. Now, you would expect that for a person who holds the Guinness Book of World Records for the most handshaking in one day,” Mr. McLarty noted in remarks full of praise and humor, before hastening to add that “President Clinton is protesting that record.”

Attesting to his oft-stated belief that “partisanship should stop at the water’s edge,” Mr. Richardson made a point of saying how unhappy he was seeing the week’s demonstrations against President Bush in Latin America. But he couldn’t resist some humor of his own, remarking in lighthearted fashion about why he wrote (or didn’t write) the book. “The most common reasons are two, and I want to dispel them right away,” he said. “One is I got a big ego, and the second is I’m planning to run for something else. Dispel that.

“And if you believe that. …” His voice trailed off deliberately as the crowd erupted in laughter right on cue.

— Ann Geracimos

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