The most qualified Democratic candidate for president of the United States will be coming to Dartmouth today. And odds are you've never heard of him.
Gov. Bill Richardson, D-N.M., has a resume second to none. He served in the U.S. Congress for 15 years. He was the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under President Clinton. And, for the final three years of the Clinton presidency, he was the secretary of energy. After Clinton left office, Richardson returned home to New Mexico, where he was recently reelected to office with a record 69 percent of the vote -- the widest margin in New Mexico's history.
Richardson's credentials speak for themselves. While governor of New Mexico, he has been repeatedly called upon by the State Department to negotiate on behalf of the United States around the globe. A few months ago, he brokered a cease-fire in Darfur. When talks with North Korea broke down over North Korea's development of nuclear weapons, Richardson got them back on track. He has received wide acclaim for negotiating the release of American prisoners in Cuba, Iraq and North Korea. His diplomatic skill has led him to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize on four separate occasions.
At home, Bill Richardson's accomplishments have been equally incredible. He has followed a centrist course in government, economically conservative but socially liberal. As governor of New Mexico, he balanced the state budget while cutting taxes for the middle class and increasing funding for education. He eliminated over $200 million of bureaucratic inefficiencies. His statewide energy policy has made New Mexico one of the few states that meet the requirements of the 1997 Kyoto Treaty. During his time in office, the New Mexican economy has been revitalized with the creation of 84,000 new jobs, many of which have been in high-tech industries. All the while, he has been a strong social progressive, pushing New Mexico to legalize civil unions while Democrats in other states have done nothing.
More than any other candidate, Bill Richardson has the experience necessary for the presidency of the United States.
But how can he win?
David goes on to provide a number of reasons, the third of which is:
Third, Richardson is the only Democratic governor in the race. Since 1960, 40 senators have run for president. And since 1960, no senator has ever moved into the White House. Go figure.
Back in October, I tried to 'figure' it this way:
There has been no one since JFK to move from the Senate to the Presidency. Every President since has either been a current or former Vice President or a governor. In this era, there needs to be some record of achievement (of whatever quality) in the executive branch of a government in order to campaign successfully for President. Look at John Kerry's bid for President in 2004--three terms in the Senate and essentially nothing to show for it during the campaign.
Candidates who have not had recent executive experience in government haven't made compelling candidates. In the current environment, we might regard a successful record as a chief executive at some level of government as a necessary, though not sufficient, condition for being elected to the Presidency.