Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Getting Better

NM Gov. Bill Richardson sat down for about 20 minutes on PBS yesterday… in one of his better interview performances of the campaign so far.

Looking dapper, his hair neatly combed and styled, the often frumpy guv was anything but as he fielded a wide array of questions from Ray Suarez, even managing to crack a couple jokes along the way.

About the Iraq war, Richardson touted his plan to withdraw completely from the country, leave no residual forces behind and focus on political negotiations. “My position is the war can only end, peace come to Iraq with a compromise… There’s no military solution, but I think there’s a political solution, but the window is ending..

Pushing back, Suarez asked: “You can’t see any role for American arms in that part of the world?” Richardson: “I just believe this war is detracting from the real threats of this country,” he said, pointing to Iran, North Korea, the broader Middle East.

On how the would-be first Mexican American prez would deal with Mexico and the immigration issue, Richardson gave his most thorough answer of the interview.

“The first thing you do is have a foreign policy discussion with the president of Mexico,” Richardson began, emphasizing that the US has to be tough with Mexico. He offered this respectful, but frank advice to Mexican President Felipe Calderon: “Mr President, you got to do something to give jobs to your people, to reduce poverty there, at the very least stop handing out maps on the easiest place to cross.”

Richardson called for a stronger border security, development of higher tech detection methods at border, but no wall. In his best line of the night, he added: “If you build a wall that is 12 feet tall, a lot of 13 foot ladders are going to happen.”

More on immigration: “There’s got to be a legalization program. What’s the alternative? Round everyone up and deport them? That’s not going to happen. Or the current status, which is leave the problem and not deal with it. I think that’s not acceptable.”

In a revealing bit of Richardson’s biography, Suarez asked the guv if not living full-time in the US until he was in the 8th grade “gives you an insight into this that other candidates don’t have?” Richardson answered by touting his bilingualism, biculturalism, his emphasis on “respecting other points of view” and resolving problems through negotiation and diplomacy.

He also plugged an unusual promise if he actually wins the nomination:

“If I’m the nominee, I’ll name my cabinet before the election. So that the American people know what team it is. I’ll have independents, I’ll have Republicans in my cabinet,” he said.

Maybe remembering he’s still in the heat of the DEMOCRATIC nominating contest, he added this with a crooked smile: “I won’t overdo the Republicans.”

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