Monday, April 30, 2007

Richardson Will One One Vote at a Time, "Going Right To The People"

This New Hampshire blogger, a former chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, recounts his breakfast with Bill

Breakfast With the Next President

by Jeff Woodburn, NH Insider

I’ve forgotten the exact breakfast spot we’re suppose to meet, but figured it wouldn’t be too hard to find (there are only two in town.) The entourage should stick out in this little town. Just look for the suits filled with young aides worrying about things they have no control over. I enter the diner and see just one local in a baseball cap having breakfast. This can’t be it so I rush back to my car wondering where everyone is. I see a suit: just one. At 7:06 a.m., it is too early for funeral or a wedding, so I assume he’s part of the candidate’s team.

“He’ll be right along,” he says, but it sounds more like don’t leave or the next president will have breakfast alone, “snow slowed us up.” I thought there would be a few more people, not just me and the guy at the end of the counter.

A moment later, my guest walks in with a rush of busy aides, and heads toward the baseball capped man. They talk about guns. My guest’s position on gun control is rare among Democrats. I greet his handlers and we engage in small talk. In an instant, he’s back and he’s got my hand and before I know it, he slides into the booth and grabs a menu. “I’m on this crazy diet,” he announces, “I ‘m going to get some real food (sausage and eggs.)” This ordinary comment is extraordinary in modern day Presidential politics, where everything is analyzed and poll tested. Presidential candidates are a very different breed.

Since 1980, I’ve met a couple dozen Presidential candidates. To survive the endless scrutiny, they create a plastic veneer and can become paralyzed with caution. You become guarded when everyone you meet wants something from you, or wants to pin something on you. Most stuffed shirts simply try to endure this process, and look utterly uncomfortable at best or like a damn fool at worst. A few like Pat Buchanan, Bill Clinton and John McCain seem to enjoy it.

The New Hampshire Primary forces big shot politicians to come down to earth and meet real people. I realize that my address is more important than my political prowess. I find the attention to be a little odd and embarrassing. The process does work so long as state politicians don’t begin to see themselves as “King makers,” rather than simply good links to the locals. My guest has been briefed enough to know a little bit about me. So he asks a question or two. He doesn’t pander, but he does listen and offers quick, witty one-liners and thoughtful observations.

I don’t get mired in policy. Politicians provide canned answers all day long to these questions. I’m interested in what kind of person they are. Issues change, people don’t. I come with two topics about his background that I find revealing. First is that he holds the Guinness Book of World Records for handshaking. This proves to me he’s willing to take risks and that he doesn’t take himself too seriously.

The second is that, as governor, he signed a bill that banned cock fighting. As a novice chicken farmer, I followed the legislation introduced in New Hampshire this year to ban the strict confinement of chickens (even though no one uses this practice here.) I wonder how different our two states are in terms of our politics (and our chickens.) I remember that George Bush beat John Kerry in my guest’s home state. Maybe we need a candidate who can win and govern in a place where his or her own party doesn’t dominate? I can’t imagine Hillary Clinton or Barrack Obama stopping a cock fight.

My guest makes me feel comfortable. We’re now going back and forth with casual banter. It’s like a Friday night at the Woodburn House (a popular local establishment owned by the author.) I like him. I’m a sucker for an authenticity. He reminds me of the best qualities of an old time politician. He’s a character, who genuinely enjoys meeting people. He doesn’t seem disturbed with his low standing in the polls; rather he believes he can win one vote at a time. “I’m going right to the people” he adds. It sounds more like a populist political philosophy, than a campaign strategy.

My guest is Bill Richardson, the Governor of New Mexico and former Congressman, Energy Secretary and UN Ambassador. He finally gives me the sales pitch. He’s a successful governor and diplomat, with a knack for getting things done at home and abroad. As President, he certainly would have his work cut out for him.

An aide interrupts, “It’s time to go.” I’m up and headed out not wanting to be the cause of his tardiness at the next event. I glance back; he’s still at the table settling up, I assume. I turn and move toward him, and say, “Governor, I’d be happy to support you.”

The New Hampshire Presidential primary doesn’t build character, it reveals it. Our great contribution to the Presidential selection process is that we can see beyond polls, endorsements, fundraising, and even issues, and look right into the eyes of the candidates. This process is just beginning, but I know now what others will soon learn: Bill Richardson is a good man and is worthy of serious consideration.

(Jeff Woodburn, of Whitefield, served as Chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party from 1997-99)

Governor Bill Richardson Calls for US Leadership and Action to Stop Darfur Genocide

Richardson tells Global Darfur Days rally time is running out- waiting just means more people will die

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson today challenged the Bush administration to take significant and meaningful action to help end the deadly violence taking place in the Darfur region of Sudan. The Governor told the crowd of people attending the Global Darfur Days rally in San Francisco that the people of Darfur want to know when the world is going to help.

"Time is running out for the people of Darfur. The people there cannot wait much longer, for waiting means more death, more broken families, more children without a future," said Governor Richardson. "This is a defining moment for the United States. We have an opportunity to lead the world in taking action to end the killing in Darfur and we must not blow it."

The Governor, who is seeking the 2008 Democratic Presidential nomination, is the only candidate who has toured the troubled Darfur region of Sudan, negotiated the release of hostages and prisoners from Sudan, and brokered a cease-fire between rebel groups and the Sudanese government.

Governor Richardson outlined his strategies for US leadership on Darfur:

  1. First, America must make peace in Darfur a much higher priority. I agree with Save Darfur--we need full-time, high-level US diplomacy dedicated to ending this crisis.
  2. Second, America must engage Sudan's economic and political partners--China Pakistan, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the Arab League to build a multilateral coalition with real leverage. That could begin by endorsing the Arab League's commitments on Darfur--to aid the African Union's mission, to fund development in Darfur, and to support the UN hybrid force in Sudan.
  3. Third, we should deploy a UN peacekeeping force to eastern Chad to prevent a regionalization of the conflict. America should join other wealthy countries to fund refugee camps in neighboring countries and assure that those weak states bend to accommodate, but do not break from the pressure.
  4. Fourth, we should use our full diplomatic weaponry --offering incentives for compliance and threatening multilateral sanctions for resistance to both the Government of Sudan and the various rebel groups.
  5. Fifth, we must develop agreed upon negotiating positions among the rebel factions, to assure that any common resolution won't be quickly undone by one dissatisfied rebel group.
  6. Last, America should join the International Criminal Court.

"It's time for America to live up to its own ideals. It is time to do the right thing. It is time to Save Darfur," added the Governor.

Governor Richardson has dealt extensively with Africa and Sudan during his career, as a Congressman, US Ambassador to the United Nations, Secretary of Energy, and even as two-term Governor of New Mexico:

  • In 1996 Governor Richardson secured the release of pilot John Early of Albuquerque, NM, and two Red Cross workers who were being held hostage by Sudanese rebels,
  • In September, 2006 Governor Richardson negotiated with President al-Bashir and secured the release of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist (and New Mexico resident) Paul Salopek and two colleagues from Chad. The trio had been arrested and charged with espionage,
  • In January, 2007 Governor Richardson met in relocation camps with Sudanese people displaced by the fighting, and negotiated a cease-fire between the government and rebel leaders in Darfur.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

MSNBC To Broadcast SCDP Debate

Hope everyone is well and enjoying the spring colors complimenting our bluegrass,

Just thought I'd send word in case you hadn't heard that the South Carolina Democratic Party will be hosting a 2008 Presidential candidates debate this Thursday evening at 7 pm Eastern. MSNBC will be broadcasting the event live and this would be a great opportunity to spread awareness about our candidate!

If you've ever wanted to introduce the Governor to your friends who may not know enough about him, what better way than to showcase his unparalleled experience amongst the field in a lively, nationally televised debate? There will be no opening or closing statements, just the candidates’ reactions to questions and to each other.

The national campaign grassroots director is encouraging us all to use this as a first significant opportunity to showcase what we already know; that the Governor's electability, his diversity in experience and progressive leadership will surpass the media hype levied onto some of the other candidates.

If each one of us can make an effort to invite those we know who wish to elect a Democrat back to the White House in 2008 to check out the debate whether in the privacy of their own home, out at the local tavern or by hosting a house party on behalf of the Governor's candidacy, we can help spread the word and use this event as a catalyst for support growth here in the Commonwealth!

Let's show `em who can win in the swing states and who has the experience to right the wrongs of the Bush administration!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Burden of Proof: A Man For All Reasons

One of the most frustrating aspects of trying to spread the word about our candidate amongst fellow Democrats I speak with is the ease to which people relegate Governor Richardson to positions other than the office he is seeking. All too often, I hear "Cabinetmakers" push him aside to one of any number of posts that reflect his diversity in experience.

For example;

"I like Richardson, I think he'd make a great Secretary of State," or "Obama/Richardson would be my dream ticket!"

Up to this point I've left the question that should follow such a response to dissolve on the tip of my tongue in muted reticence for a number of reasons; mainly that those I'd spoken with who offered their own administrative advice on executive branch job placement already supported another candidate. Perhaps I also took some solace in the mere fact that there was an affirmation of name recognition on the part of our man. No longer.

My friends, the time for name dropping and introductory pleasantries is over. The burden of proof is now on the support of any Democratic candidate who believes he or she is better prepared to lead our nation than Governor Bill Richardson.

No longer should it be acceptable to remain content with "I like him, he's my second choice," nor should we be at all complacent with the ease to which a positive opinion of him leads to the endorsement of serving at the pleasure of any other candidate for President.

So, as Senator Clinton suggested when announcing her exploratory committee, "let's begin a conversation, because we all need to be part of the discussion if we're all going to be part of the solution." So let's talk, let's chat, let's start a dialogue.

Tell me why I should believe any other Democratic candidate should get the nod over the varied political and administrative experience of Governor Richardson. Tell me why nominating another Senator with limited crossover appeal in battleground regions so crucial to our success in 2008 should inherit the nominative coronation while each of us has a clear choice to stand up and present the American people with a Presidential candidate who does more than simply talk about his potential of obtaining significant results in the field; we can present them with one who has achieved them! Tell me why, in the aftermath of hype and media exposure presented to the `top tier' at the moment, he is your second choice... why instead wouldn't Richardson/Obama be your "Dream Ticket?" Do you not feel confident that the strength of his candidacy supercedes the `greater knowns?' Does it seem that due to his second tier status in polling at the moment you don't think he can secure the nomination though you are clearly in a position to help change it if you wish? I realize you think he's a `longshot' to win the nomination at the moment but what about the odds of the state of our nation improving if we elect another President with such limited experience? Should we ask the American people to take that risk? Now is not the time for that. Save the rockstar charisma and the name recognition for later. Now is not the time.

We are all too aware of the challenges facing our nation after the disastrous execution in leadership and polarizing ideology of the Bush Administration. Many of us disagree on the priority of these challenges. Yet within the diversity of our personal priorities as voters it is always important to consider the readiness of our next President of these United States to face any adversity ahead. There are many reasons why I believe Bill Richardson should be our Democratic nominee for President yet his diversity in experience separates him so notably from the remainder of our contenders.

So even if it would seem that he would make a good Secretary of State after the Bush administration needed to score a much-needed foreign policy victory by asking Bill Richardson to help lead a delegation to North Korea with the aim of bringing home the remains of American servicemen who gave their lives in the Korean War, not only succeeding but additionally brokering an agreement that will allow UN inspectors to supervise the shutdown of the Yongbyon atomic reactor on top of his already impressive diplomatic record, don't be so quick to sell him short. After all, the man's already been a cabinet member of the executive branch as Secretary of Energy. He's been there, done that. Of course, it isn't as if he neglected the issue of renewable energy once he left the DOE. You'll be hearing a lot of talk about reducing our dependence on foreign oil from your hopeful President but this guy here actually has a very strong record of performance in the field!

I think it's worth some consideration that in a general election it will be to his advantage to appeal to moderate Republicans and independents that he has received a reputation as one of the most fiscally responsible Governors in the nation. I don't know about you, but you've gotta believe the Republicans will drag out the ol' "tax and spend liberal" epithet to the aim of achieving a victory. Wouldn't it be great to not have that albatross hanging over a Democratic nominee's head for once?

I know, I know; to some of you out there the mere thought of appealing to a moderate swing voter goes against a staunch progressive idealism which has hardened with frustration toward the regressive ways of our current administration. You've every right to be upset! Let's just take care not to get too upset or we'll likely be even moreso in November of 2008. Yet before dismissing him entirely on the basis of some of his centrist positions, it may of interest to note that, unlike many of his peers seeking the nomination, as President he plans to leave no residual force behind after a prompt removal of forces in Iraq . Furthermore, Richardson has offered a susbtantial health care plan to help ensure coverage for more Americans and places high priority on greater stewardship toward the environment.

So if we are all to be a "part of the discussion if we are going to be part of the solution" then in the coming months it will continue to amaze me in some conversations if Governor Richardson remains on the short list for a position in somebody else's cabinet or to serve as President of the Senate, perhaps the only position in the executive branch to which his Democratic Senator rivals would be better suited.