HANOVER, NH-- On the same day he released a new television ad in New Hampshire, emphasizing that he is the only major candidate committed to withdrawing all American troops from Iraq, Governor Bill Richardson participated in the NBC/DNC Presidential Debate at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, moderated by Tim Russert.
Governor Richardson was the only candidate of the top four to make an unequivocal commitment to get all of our troops out of Iraq, proving that he is the only candidate who will get all of our troops out of Iraq and actually end this war. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards all reaffirmed that they would leave tens of thousands of troops in Iraq indefinitely.
"I have a fundamental difference with Senator Obama, John Edwards, and Senator Clinton," Governor Richardson said. "Their position is changing the mission. My position is to end this war. Six billion dollars on cancer research equals two weeks of spending on the war. As long as we do not end the war, we cannot invest in critical needs like cancer. The American people want to end the war. You cannot start the reconciliation of Iraq, a political settlement, and possibly this issue of a separation, which I think is a possible solution, until we get all our troops out. Unlike Senator Clinton, I do not believe the Congress has done enough. We have been able to move 240,000 of our troops in three months in and out of Iraq through Kuwait. It would take persuading Turkey. I would leave behind some of the light equipment. Leaving any troop behind will prevent us from moving forward toward stability in the region. I would talk to Iran. I would make sure the entire issue is tied to stability in the Israeli-Palestinian issue. You have to deal with the entire issue."
When discussing Iran during the debate Governor Richardson responded: "We should not allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons. Another cornerstone should be the strength and security of Israel. You cannot deny a nation the right to legitimately defend itself. You have to approach Iran with diplomacy, then use sanctions. The problem with Iran is we do not build the international support that is needed to put economic pressure on Iran, and my point here is that Iran is susceptible to economic pressure. I would not necessarily talk to Ahmadinejad. I would talk to moderate clerics, to business leaders, 40% of the Iranian people vote for moderate candidates for president, so you first use diplomacy. The problem is that we cannot build international support with the Europeans, and with Russia that have leverage on Iran to effectively pressure them not to build nuclear weapons. It's called diplomacy, negotiation, talking to Iran and Syria and trying to work out differences."
During the discussion on Social Security Governor Richardson made his position clear. "First, we need to take privatization off the table,” Richardson said. “Second, we need to stop raiding the social security trust fund, as Congress and the President have done. I am the only candidate for a constitution amendment to balance the budget. You have to have universal pensions. This estimate you are citing is based on 1.3 percent economic growth.1 That growth is pathetic. If we balance the budget, if we invest in education, if we have a stronger growth rate, then we will have the ability to support to help fix Social Security. I am for a constitutional amendment to balance the budget within five years."
Richardson's strong debate performance comes just after the release of an ad and a four-minute video on Iraq. These important pieces make it clear that Governor Richardson is the only major candidate committed to getting all our troops out of Iraq -- with no residual forces -- and actually ending this war. In the ad and video, prominent online activists endorse the Richardson Plan for the war in Iraq.
As the only true candidate of experience and change who has a proven record of delivering, whether it is returning the remains of U.S. troops from North Korea or negotiating with Saddam Hussein to free hostages from Iraq, Richardson made it clear that the next president needs real experience to deliver change.