New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson showed up this morning at the regular newsmaker breakfasts put on by the Christian Science Monitor. He's a funny guy with a pretty good political résumé: He was a Democratic House leader and Clinton-era energy secretary and United Nations ambassador. Now he's head of the Democratic Governors Association.
But more important, he's leaning toward running for president in 2008. With just an hour to speak, he shoved aside the yummy bacon and eggs in the Capital Hilton conference room to talk about the political situation Democrats face in the upcoming midterm elections and 2008. Among his views:
- Democrats will take back control of the House and a majority of governorships.
- His party will get the benefit of a "2 percent wave" of voter support over Republicans this year.
- Immigration isn't a vote winner but instead just energizes the political base.
- Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean is right to keep spending money to install party offices in all 50 states despite complaints from House Democrats that they need the cash to take back the chamber.
All good stuff, but the two dozen political reporters around the oval table wanted to know if he was running for president. This is what he had to offer: Yes, he's considering a bid. Yes, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton can win despite concerns she's too polarizing. No, none of the other likely governors planning to runVirginia ex-Gov. Mark Warner and retiring Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsackwill have the political machine to lock up the support of the party's governors like George Bush did in 2000.
Richardson said that "bread and butter" issues like healthcare and education will dominate the campaign, but he said the situation in Iraq will also weigh heavily over the election. And on that front, he offered a troop withdrawal plan: He'd set up a timetable for withdrawal over a year. It would be coupled with a political deal to split power among the warring sides. He'd call for a Middle East peace conference to win help and money for rebuilding Iraq. He'd keep a small U.S. security force in Iraq and redeploy some troops to neighboring countries to fight the broader war on terrorism. He'd defer military numbers and timelines to military commanders. And he'd use the savings from withdrawing troops to enhance U.S. homeland security.
"We are not concentrating on the real threats to the country," he said.