Richardson to N.H.: Don't be swayed by money
Democratic presidential hopeful Gov. Bill Richardson, D-N.M., talks with students at a campaign event at New England College in Henniker, N.H., Wednesday, April 4, 2007. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
Bill Richardson
Governor, NM
Born: 11/15/1947
Birthplace: Pasedena, CA
Home: Santa Fe, NM
Religion: Catholic
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HENNIKER, N.H. - New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson cautioned New Hampshire voters not to be swayed by the fundraising success of some of his rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Richardson campaigned in the first-primary state Wednesday, a day after a poll showed that 47 percent of likely Democratic voters said they didn't know enough about him to have an opinion.

"All I want is for you to keep your powder dry. Wait until you see all the candidates. Wait until you see the debates. Wait until you see who has the best record and the best plan to lead our country," Richardson said at New England College. "Don't get swayed by rock-star status or polls or how much money we've raised. I did OK in that area, but I'm not in the stratosphere."

According to their campaigns, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton raised $26 million in the first quarter, followed closely by Sen. Barack Obama, $25 million, with former Sen. John Edwards third at $14 million. All are breathtaking sums compared to figures from previous presidential years.

Richardson said he had raised $6 million and had more than $5 million cash on hand.

"I've only been doing this two months," he said later at Dartmouth College. "I had a legislative session. I'm a governor. I have a day job. I've got to work."

Those comments came in response to an audience member who said in any other election cycle Richardson likely would be the front-runner, but not in the age of the "Clinton-Obama political machine."

"Forgive me for being so blunt," the man told Richardson. "But how do you plan to compete and also, would you accept a vice president position if it was offered to you?"

Richardson ignored the second question but answered the first by ticking off his advantages: foreign policy experience, being a governor and coming from a Western state. He said he may not have Clinton or Obama's money, but he intends to outwork them.

"I've got better qualifications," he said. "This race is 10 months away and all of a sudden, winners have been declared."

Though Richardson answered policy questions on topics ranging from health care to immigration, the first question came from a young man who mentioned former President Clinton and the Monica Lewinsky scandal and sought assurance from Richardson that "you understand that your private life and the political-presidential realm is not private and that you understand how to conduct your life in an ethical way."

Richardson noted that his wife of 33 years has been campaigning with him and that he has twice been confirmed by the U.S. Senate _ as a U.N. ambassador and as energy secretary.

"I've faced seven elections in Congress and there's never been a whiff of a scandal. I don't know what else to say," he said.

Later, another questioner brought up old allegations that Richardson he erroneously claimed that as a young baseball player, he was a draft pick of the Kansas City A's in 1966.

After a newspaper investigation in 2005 found no record of Richardson being drafted by the A's, he acknowledged the error, saying he believed it was true based on an old program for an amateur team he had played for in Massachusetts. On a 1967 program printed by the Cape Cod League's Cotuit Kettleers, the words "Drafted by K.C." appear next to Richardson's name.

"I thought I had been drafted," he said Wednesday. "There was a scout who came out and said 'I told Richardson's father that we would give him $25,000 to sign with a team called the Houston Colts. Now that hasn't come out, but it will come out."

"Mistakes are made. I made a mistake. I should've checked, but this was 40 years ago," he said. "But I was a decent pitcher."