Bill Richardson: Governor, Diplomat, Batman

BY ANDREA SAENZ

Presidential Preview: Your Picks for 2008

In the last month, a host of politicians have joined the presidential race for 2008. The Record asked students to explain which candidate they’re most excited about; in the coming weeks, we’ll be running columns in support of all the major candidates. Don’t see your favorite candidate represented? Email record@law.harvard.edu and make your opinion heard.

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There are a truckload of candidates already declared for 2008; many speak of change and hope and have good teeth, but how is a discerning voter to choose between them? My plan is this: Let’s elect someone who is ready to govern from day one, a person with the skills and experience to be a fantastic leader domestically and internationally and to rescue this country from the cesspool of incompetence we’ve been living in. That person is New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson.

Bill Richardson is often called the candidate with the most impressive resume; what that really means is he’s the most skilled and proven leader of all the candidates, Democrats and Republicans alike. Richardson, a graduate of the Tufts Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, has been a member of Congress, Secretary of Energy, Ambassador to the U.N., and Governor of New Mexico, where he’s so well-regarded that in his re-election campaign he got 40% of the Republican vote. He’s spent his term improving schools, investing in health care and renewable energy, and creating high-tech jobs – all while lowering taxes and maintaining the highest budget reserves in state history. No, really.

On top of that, Richardson has negotiated internationally on behalf of the U.S. for more than a decade, including during the Bush Administration; he’s negotiated the release of hostages in Iraq and Cuba, met with North Korea, the Taliban, and Saddam Hussein, and just three weeks ago, spent time in Darfur negotiating a cease-fire and peace summit with the Sudanese government and rebel groups. Diplomacy! Remember that? How about a President who not only believes in it, but is already skilled and well-respected by world leaders? Imagine the change a President Richardson would bring to America’s diplomatic efforts.

Hearing this list of accomplishments, last week Jon Stewart clapped his hands to his cheeks on the Daily Show and cried, “He’s Batman!” Richardson’s stomach is probably too big for the suit, but I like the idea.

And of course, it doesn’t hurt that Richardson, a Mexican-American, speaks non-painful Spanish and understands that to connect with Latino voters, you need more than a mariachi band. It doesn’t hurt that he’s the only candidate from the newly blue-tinged West, where the Nevada primary is newly important. But the real reason I support Bill Richardson is that he’s the candidate I most trust to do a great job at the helm of the nation. As a progressive governor with a foreign policy, with concrete ideas on energy, immigration, national security, and the rest, Richardson is ready to roll.

But, you might say, Other Candidate has so much money/media attention! Shouldn’t I back one of the big guns instead of a guy who looks like Horatio Sanz?

To that, I will only say this: Those candidates might not want to get too comfortable. At this point in the 2004 race, the Democratic front-runner was Joe Lieberman. Plus, you don’t want to count out the politicking skills of Richardson, who holds the Guinness world record for shaking hands. No, really.

I’m excited to be a Democrat right now. I believe the White House is ours to lose in 2008, and there are several sincere and smart candidates in the race. But there’s only one who’s balanced a budget, negotiated with dictators, and been called the Caped Crusader. Check in at richardsonforpresident.com, and tell me if you like what you see.

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