DES MOINES, IA -- Bolstered by growing support in Iowa, Governor Bill Richardson participated in the second DNC-sanctioned Presidential debate this morning in Des Moines, Iowa. The debate was moderated by George Stephanopoulos of ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos and David Yepsen of the Des Moines Register.
"Senator Obama provides change and Senator Clinton experience. With me, you get both," Governor Richardson stated. "We're going to need change to become energy independent. We're going to need experience to deal with foreign leaders. I've met already with most of them. All my life I've been a diplomat and from day one I will be ready."
During the debate, Governor Richardson's plan to leave no residual forces behind dominated the discussion on Iraq.
"I have a plan to end this war," Richardson said. "We have to get all our troops out. Our kids are dying, our troops have become targets. We need reconciliation among the three groups, a division of oil revenues, and an all-Muslim peacekeeping force headed by the UN. None of this peacekeeping begins until all of our troops are out. It's critically important that we do this by an orderly timetable. In the Iraq war, through Kuwait, we have moved, over three-month periods, approximately 250,000 of our troops into and out of Iraq. We could move them out through roads to Kuwait. We could move them out through roads to Turkey. We can do this negotiating with the Turks."
Generals and experts agree with Richardson. Once the war is de-authorized and withdrawal begins, all our troops can be redeployed from Iraq in a quick, orderly, and effective manner.
"When a President talks about foreign policy, a President has to be clear," Richardson said. "You can never take the military option off the table. The Bush administration has relied on the military option, preemption. America needs to find ways that it can get its allies to aid in the fight against terrorism."
As the most vocal presidential candidate on the issue of education Richardson reiterated his proposal of a minimum wage for our teachers of $40,000.
"I have a one point plan for No Child Left Behind, as I do for Iraq - scrap it," Richardson stated. "Once again we need to be number one in Math and Science. I would have full-day kindergarten. I would revise our high school curriculum to include arts-in-the-schools."
"This is the Katrina of the mortgage lending industry," Richardson stated in response to a question about the current mortgage crisis. "What we need is more transparency. What we need to do is not appoint officials in the industry to regulate the industry. George Bush has shown a total lack of leadership, a total lack of competence. I strongly support additional measures to increase transparency and build firewalls between credit raters and financial institutions. I have a strong record in New Mexico both on cracking down on unscrupulous lenders and in leading on affordable housing issues. And that is what we have lacked in the last six years, and especially in the last couple weeks on this threat to our economy -- leadership."
The most recent poll of likely Iowa caucus-goers shows Richardson just five points behind Barack Obama. Please find a link to the ONE Campaign poll here: