N.M. governor aims to be first Hispanic president


Published: Monday, January 22, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 21, 2007 at 10:22 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Democrat Bill Richardson took the first step Sunday toward a bid to become the first Hispanic president, saying the country needs his extensive experience as a governor, cabinet secretary and ambassador.

The 59-year-old New Mexico governor announced in a video posted on his Web site that he would set up an exploratory committee that will allow him to begin raising money and assembling his campaign organization.

His candidacy would make history as the field of Democratic candidates would be the most diverse ever. On Saturday, New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said she wanted to be the first female president. Last week, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois jumped in, a formidable contender who would be the first black commander in chief.

Richardson, whose father was an international banker from Boston and whose mother was Mexican, said he believes the country "has changed enough" that voters are ready for a woman or minority president.

"The country is looking for somebody who, one, brings the country together — a unifier, a healer," Richardson told The Associated Press. "And two, somebody who gets things done. Those two quests by Americans override any other concerns."

A former U.N. ambassador, Energy Department secretary and congressman, Richardson stressed his experience. He said he wanted U.S. troops to return quickly from Iraq and urged a change of leadership in Washington that would work to bridge a wide partisan divide.

"What this country needs is bipartisanship and to bring back civility" in government, he said. "I've actually done what a lot of candidates give speeches on."

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