Richardson touts plan in Durham
New Mexico governor Bill Richardson attended the Rockingham County Democrats Clambake Sunday, May 6, 2007 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. (Don Clark photo / SMG)
Bill Richardson
Governor, NM
Born: 11/15/1947
Birthplace: Pasedena, CA
Home: Santa Fe, NM
Religion: Catholic
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DURHAM — If elected president, he'd get out of Iraq by the end of the year, make the United States energy independent, improve schools, help all American's get health insurance, increase employment, and affirm the civil rights of all. And, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said, he has the experience to make it all happen and an explicit plan to do it.

Richardson, who has been nominated four times for the Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating the release of hostages, American servicemen and political prisoners in North Korea, Iraq and Cuba, has been governor of New Mexico since 2002, served 15 years in Congress, was ambassador to the United Nations, and served as the U.S. secretary of energy. In addition to his experience, Richardson said his strength is his ability to nurture bipartisanship.

"I've tried to bring people together," he said during an interview in Durham Sunday at the home of Peter and state Rep. Marjorie Smith.

The governor said he knows he's running behind the Democratic pack at the moment, but he does not foresee it as a problem.

"I don't want to be at the top right now," said Richardson, who expects to announce his formal candidacy in the next couple of weeks. "There's nine months to go."

When the time is right, he said "fate" will intervene and he'll pull ahead of the pack. "It'll come with time."

The people of New Hampshire and the United States will not choose their presidential candidate on the basis of "celebrity," but rather on a candidate's ability to get the job done, he said.

On Iraq, Richardson said he doesn't believe legislation filed last week by Sens. Robert Byrd and Hillary Clinton to deauthorize the 2002 vote to go to war goes far enough.

Richardson said that legislation would leave some residual troops in Iraq. He said let's bring them all home. "I'd bring them all back because they'd be targets."

Richardson was in New Hampshire for three days of house parties and other campaign visits over the weekend.

"I'm doing eight house parties every day," he said. He took a break Sunday morning to attend Mass at St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church in Dover with Dover Democrat Jim Casey, Richardson's finance committee chairman.

Richardson, the son of an American father and Mexican mother, was raised in Mexico City where his father was a banker. While he personally was raised with privilege, he was brought up alongside the poor. He said the greatest influence on his life was his Mexican grandmother, who took him to church every Sunday and taught him to be kind to and respect the poor.

Richardson said he learned the concept of social justice from the Catholic Church.

"I believe that I can make the lives of people better," he said. "I like power, but power to do the right thing. I want to do good. All my life that's what I've done."