- The Washington Times - Monday, May 21, 2007

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, touting his foreign and domestic experience, officially declared his candidacy yesterday for the Democratic presidential nomination, promising to end the Iraq war and rebuild the U.S. reputation abroad.

The son of an American father and Mexican mother who is seeking to become the first Hispanic president in U.S. history, Mr. Richardson made his announcement at a press conference in Los Angeles in an effort to reach out to California’s large Hispanic population, which is expected to play a pivotal role in the state’s Feb. 5 primary.

“This presidential election is unlike any other we’ve ever seen. From Day One, we have to repair the damage done here at home and abroad,” said Mr. Richardson, 59, who was a U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in the Clinton administration.

“I am running for president because these times call for a leader with a proven track record and a demonstrated ability to bring people together to tackle our problems at home and abroad,” he said.

Though not well known nationwide, Mr. Richardson has the lengthiest resume of all of the Democratic contenders. The governor and former ambassador also has been U.S. energy secretary, served seven terms in the House and held a career as a diplomatic troubleshooter.

He has begun promoting that experience in a self-deprecating TV ad in Iowa, in which a personnel recruiter reads his resume and then asks, “So what makes you think you can be president?”

In another version of the ad, the job interviewer says, “You might be a little overqualified.”

Yesterday, Mr. Richardson touted his foreign policy background and his experience in brokering agreements in trouble spots abroad, saying, “Coming up with a good idea is only half the job. The other half is bringing people together to get it done.”

Mr. Richardson said he would work to broker a negotiated settlement in Iraq and bring American troops home. “Removing all of our troops and healing Iraq are one and the same. Only when it is clear that the U.S. will leave Iraq can the hard diplomatic work have a chance for success,” he said.

Mr. Richardson also is promoting the across-the-board income tax rates he enacted in his first term as governor, a position sharply at odds with his rivals for the nomination, who have called for tax increases.

“Well, as Democrats, I just hope that we always don’t think of new taxes to pay for programs,” he told them during a recent debate.

“While Bill Richardson is certainly no Milton Friedman, he has an opportunity to open up the Democratic Party to pro-growth policies. We hope he takes advantage of this opportunity,” said Pat Toomey, president of the Club for Growth.

Mr. Richardson remains in the single digits in the polls nationally, but a Des Moines Register poll Sunday showed him with 10 percent support in Iowa, home of the nation’s first nominating caucuses on Jan. 14. An earlier Zogby poll in New Hampshire also showed Mr. Richardson drawing 10 percent support, putting him within striking range of challenging his party’s top-tier candidates in the first four delegate-selection contests in January.

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