Bill Richardson gets down and dirty

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who began his race for the Democratic presidential nomination by asking competitors to sign a pledge to run only positive campaigns, is now poking sharp words at the leading Democratic candidates on Iraq as he tries to climb out of fourth place in the polls.

Richardson told a conference sponsored by liberal groups this week that Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, Barack Obama of Illinois, Chris Dodd of Connecticut and Joe Biden of Delaware and former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina had all either voted for or supported bills or resolutions with timetables and “loopholes” that would allow a president to “leave an undetermined number of troops in Iraq indefinitely.”

“I would leave zero troops. Not a single one. And if the embassy and our embassy personnel aren’t safe, then they’re all coming home too,” said Richardson at a “Take Back America” conference. Earlier, he told delegates to a convention sponsored by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) that “Congress has been weak in trying to stop the war.”

In February, Richardson had asked his rivals to sign a pledge not to run negative campaigns.

“I don’t buy this nonsense that negative campaigns toughen up a nominee. Save it for the Republicans,” Richardson told the Democratic National Committee on Feb. 3.

Since then, Richardson has risen to fourth place in both national polls and polls in the key states of Iowa and New Hampshire, behind Clinton, Obama and Edwards. But he is still only favored by about one in 10 likely primary and caucus voters, and he has struggled to get national media attention.

Richardson told reporters Tuesday that “I still am a nice guy. I am not being negative. I am pointing out differences. On a fundamental difference like Iraq policy I think we need to sharpen the differences,” said Richardson. “I’ve been trying to point this out for some time and hopefully this will get some attention.”

Richardson said he wants U.S. troops out by the end of 2007. He said he believes that leaving any U.S. troops in Iraq, even to train Iraqi troops, will only make them targets.

“There is not a single sign that Iraq is improving. To the contrary, every indication is that it’s getting worse and a smaller force will do nothing to change that,” said Richardson.

He said he would “leverage” the departure of U.S. troops to force the Shia, Sunni and Kurdish factions to come to a political settlement and have an all-Muslim force from Turkey, Jordan and possibly Syria and Iran keep the peace.

Clinton told the AFSCME conference that she would begin withdrawing troops immediately, but that some troops might have to remain to prevent Iraq from becoming a staging ground for al Qaeda, to protect the Kurds in northern Iraq, to guard against Iranian influence and possibly as trainers.

Edwards said he would immediately draw down 40,000 to 50,000 of the 150,000 American troops now in Iraq and continue to withdraw combat troops over the next 10 months.

Obama said the best option is to “begin a phased redeployment, that we’re as careful getting out as we were careless getting in.”


  1. nuQler Ostrich

    The writer conveniently fails to mention the name of one candidate who got it right. Got it right, both on the initial vote to authorize the Iraq War, and on every succeeding vote to pour $$Billions of American’s treasure on the fire.

    The one candidate who Bill Richardson can’t fault has been completely ignored. Which has been the media’s modus operandi all along, except when they are ridiculing his looks.

    He got it right on NAFTA and shipping American jobs overseas, he got it right on Universal health care, he got it right on the environment. He has been right in the mainstream of American’s hopes and dreams for our country if you look at the polls, but the media don’t even want to mention his name.

    Shame on you.

    I’ll mention his name.

    Dennis Kucinich
    Dennis Kucinich
    Dennis Kucinich

    Just imagine if he had been given a fair hearing in 2004. Instead of being made fun of.

    Imagine American troops out of Iraq, and International cooperation in the mideast Peace process. Imagine that.

    Imagine the eliminaton of the WTO and NAFTA. Manufacturing jobs for Americans right here in America. Imagine that.

    Imagine every American being able to get health care. A single payer system that puts the profiteering corporations to work actually delivering care instead of hundred-million dollar bonuses to CEO’s. Imagine that. And for them that say, “That’s Socialized Medicine,” I say WE ALREADY HAVE SOCIALIZED MEDICINE. Just go to any Emergency Room and take a look at all the illegal aliens getting their free health care and they will have their bills pushed off onto homeowners property tax bills. We are paying for their free health care and we can’t even afford it for ourselves. How fair is that?

    So the omission of one name in this article stands out like a sore thumb. So obvious.

    Where is Dennis Kucinich’s name in there?


  2. nuQler Ostrich

    Oh, and they mention AFSCME in the article, one of the largest Unions.

    There is only one cansidate who carries a Union Card in his wallet – dues paid-up.

    Guess who?

    Dennis Kucinich, that’s who.

  3. Klaus Hergeschimmer

    Yes, I supported Kucinich in the primaries for 04′.

    To various degrees the other Dem candidates are acting like they want troops out but are part of the problem.

    When I don’t hear them committing to whether they want the permanent military bases and Super Mega US Embassy to be given up on, then they are merely ‘Bush Light’ on
    their intentions with Iraq.

    Of the top three Dem candidates, Edwards is the only one I could possibly get behind, and even that with reservations. The Dems blew any hint of veracity in extricating us from the war when they gave BushCo the bucks without mandatory withdrawl dates.

    Kucinich is who I will be voting for in the primaries, but in the presidential election, if Hillary gets nominated, I will not vote for her. Obama is untried, I have many missgivings about him too.

  4. jverner

    What a misleading headline. If pointing out political differences between yourself and opponents is “down and dirty,” then we might as well not have any debate at all. Where’s the personal attack? Where’s the questioning of patriotism? It’s not a misleading headline – it’s a silly headline. And BTW, I’m an Edwards supporter, not a Richardson supporter.

  5. Ab2kgj

    It depends on the criticism. I think reasoned discussion of views is proper and necessary. If you are discussing policy views and differences in positions that is fine. I think that discussing Iraq policy decisions is essential. If our current president is not willing to step up to the plate then we will have to have the right person doing so come next January. Attacking a person and arguing against their policy are 2 different things. The big problem with negative attacks are that they tend to run back against you in the end. They are becoming less effective as the internet age comes around.