Mr. Nice Turns Mean

He always preaches peace and unity among candidates, but we spotted Bill Richardson's troop being pretty partisan in Iowa.

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It's time for Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson to rip his "Mean People Suck" bumper sticker off his Ford Navigator. See, he has been the leading Democrat preaching peace within his party, repeatedly urging his fellow candidates to stop negative campaigning.

In fact, the New Mexico governor received a standing ovation from none other than Sen. Hillary Clinton on Saturday night when, in a speech to thousands of party faithful at the Iowa Democrats' annual Jefferson Jackson Dinner in Des Moines, he said that "it is critically important the Democrats not tear each other down....Voters of Iowa, they want a positive campaign."

So it was more than a little interesting that shortly after Clinton had given him a big hand, Richardson's campaign workers were distributing to the press corps a flier that criticized the former first lady's record on Iraq. And that wasn't all, reports our campaign reporter Liz Halloran. While Clinton, John Edwards, and other presidential candidates were speaking, Richardson supporters distracted the speechifiers by flashing spotlights on banners they had hung from the balcony of Vets Auditorium.

The banners read "2013," a reference to the date that Clinton and others have said they would most likely keep some troops in Iraq. (Richardson has called for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq.) It was the only in-house negative campaigning of the night, said one exasperated Iowa Democratic Party exec.