The Next President Must ...

Dear Friend,

In our democracy, the people grant our elected leaders the privilege of serving our country, and in return we expect a lot from them.

The past six years have taught us what can happen when a president and his team fall short. The American people have simply not gotten the leadership and the results we deserve, and the consequences have been costly -- and deadly.

Today I begin the formal process of running for President of the United States because I believe that America deserves better. We've learned the hard way that governing by ideology and talking points won't get the job done.

This election will provoke a serious debate about what America needs in a president. I want to begin with a simple question, one that will affect America's role in the world and the lives of the 300 million of us here at home.

How would you finish this sentence?

Our next president must be able to ...

Share your answer and start our discussion. We'll publish the answers from Americans across the country on our web site:

Of course, I have some ideas of my own.

From the war on terror to climate change to the ever-tightening squeeze on the middle class, the issues facing our nation are too important for the rigid ideology, corruption and utter incompetence that has characterized this Republican administration.

I've taken these kinds of challenges head-on throughout my career -- representing America at the United Nations, serving as Energy Secretary, working for my constituents as a Congressman, and now leading a diverse and growing state as Governor. I know what it takes to get results.

As I considered this decision with my family, I felt that it would be irresponsible to sit on the sidelines as our party and our country make critical choices about our future over the next year.

I hope you won't sit on the sidelines either. This election must be a serious discussion about what America needs from its chief executive, and your voice matters:

After the failures of the last six years, Americans overwhelmingly chose Democrats to lead at every level of office last November.

Now, over the course of the next year, our party has a serious responsibility to choose a nominee who will live up to our expectations and be able to tackle the challenges of the nation's highest office.

I'm honored by the support and encouragement I've received as I considered beginning this journey.

I hope you'll join me for it.

Yours sincerely,

Governor Bill Richardson