March 2, 2007

Richardson promotes his presidential run to Hispanic leaders

By Sayed Zafar Hashemi
Scripps Howard Foundation Wire

WASHINGTON — New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson amused an audience of Hispanic leaders in the fourth week of his campaign for the Democratic nomination for president.

Being a Hispanic is a positive credit for his “win,” Richardson said in a speech Tuesday. He added that since the beginning of his presidential drive, his poll numbers have risen from 1 percent to 8 percent.

“I am moving up!” he said to applause and laughter.

At a luncheon sponsored by the Latino Leaders Network, Mickey Ibarra, the group’s chair and founder, urged the Hispanic community leadership to work together and promote the fast-growing minority.

“We must build each other up, don’t you agree?” he said, clearly referring to Richard-son.

Speaking without a formal written speech, Richardson asked, “Am I going to be the first American president to do more for Hispanics than any other president?” He answered his own question with a strong “Yes!” But he said he wasn’t just running on Hispanic issues.

Born Nov. 15, 1947, in Pasadena, Calif., to an American father and Mexican mother, Richardson grew up in Mexico City before moving to New England, where he attended high school and college.

Richardson, who served as a member of Congress and was U.S. ambassador to the United Nations as well as secretary of energy in the Clinton administration, has been nominated four times for the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in negotiating to free hostages in several countries.

The governor recalled his last visit with his 93-year-old mother, who calls him a Spanish nickname “Mijito,” a term of endearment for a young boy. He said she asked him, “Are you still governor of New Mexico?” and was bamboozled when he told her he was starting his presidential campaign. She asked him, president of which country? That drew a laugh from the crowd.

Richardson said he is seeking help for his “long journey” and is confident he can win. He ended his speech by saying. “In fact, I think I am a best qualified for this job.”

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