Monday, June 18, 2007

EXCLUSIVE:5 Minutes with Governor Bill Richardson: The Transcript

Following is a complete transcript of the interview portion of my visit with Governor Bill Richardson. The Governor was extremely gracious and sincerely concerned about the future of our country. I hope the following captures some of that. Tomorrow I will have an epilogue to touch on some of the post interview exchange we shared.

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The Governor's responses are in BOLD

I am going to start with a question I asked Senator Obama Last Spring. How do we make sure we have a healthy debate within the party without providing ammunition to the opposition in the process.

Two things, One I think it is important that this be the campaign, the Democratic Primary, where the heart and sole of the Democratic Party comes forth. For that to happen, two steps need to take place. One, I believe we should all agree, all the Democrats, to stay positive. To not attack each other. Yes, to differentiate ourselves on the issues, and I believe I have a big difference with other candidates on the war in Iraq. Secondly, to participate fully in all debates, To try and make as many of these forums as possible. Not just the officially sanctioned DNC forums, but also those that other groups; Native Americans, African Americans, Environmentalists the various constituencies the Democratic Party put forth. But most importantly, it is important we make the selection of the next President not on who's the biggest Rock Star, or who's the biggest celebrity, or who has the most money, but on who has the best vision for the country and who is the most qualified.

As we move through the campaign process, how are you preparing for the "Smear Boaters" post endorsement. You know they will be gunning for whomever the nominee is.

Well you have to understand the Republican Party. They're the party of the Status Quo, they're negative. Looking at their debate, I see where that party is at; defending an unpopular President and an even more unpopular war in Iraq They're defending torture and they want to expand torture. That was the message I got from the debate. They want to basically instill the politics of fear when it comes to immigration. They are going to use every wedge issue, they are going to be negative But we have to be ready we can't just sit back and let them take shots. We got to be able to respond!

So you are hoping we don't sit by during July and August like what happened during the last race that might have been key

That's right, I want us to stay positive as Democrats, but I believe it is important that we realize the Republican Party is desperate to hang on to Power in the executive branch,. And they are going to be throwing every piece of mud at us and we should be ready to respond and just give them doses of their own medicine. Not get negative personally, but just expose their record, a record of huge deficits, a failure to act on the domestic needs of this country, education, Health care, a disastrous foreign policy, a misadventure in Iraq and a lessening of the American spirit, a morale that is very down, a very nation that is very divided. I believe all we have to do is talk about their record

Let's talk about Iraq for just a minute (I pull out a picture of my son, Cpl. Tom) I'd like to introduce you to my son

Oh Wow! He's a handsome Kid

He is currently training in Miramar after doing 6 months on the Iwo Jima

I believe we should give the President this last chance, using the surge, to prepare to turn Iraqi security over to the Iraqi's in November. Isn't that soon enough? I've been pretty hawkish, I've been actually supporting the President even through this 'surge', with an understanding when he made his announcement that in November he turns over Iraqi Security to Iraq and begin redeploying troops

No, I disagree! I believe what's happened is our troops have become the targets. When 61% of the Iraqi people basically say that it is OK to shoot at an American soldier, and 72% of the Iraqi people want us out within a year. I believe that our support there has reached a point where it is best to withdraw. I believe the surge, the President's policy, is basically going to cause more sectarian violence, more of a civil war.

What I would do as President is use the leverage of a withdrawal to try to bring a peace a reconciliation among the three groups in Iraq. One where they divide oil revenues, they divide themselves into states, as three different states. They have a federal Government heading them, an all Muslim peace keeping force. Iran and Syria would participate. That would be a tough negotiation, but I don't believe those countries would want to have a huge influx of refugees. I believe very strongly that this war has caused enormous damage to the United States. What I would do with our troops is redeploy them to bases in Kuwait where they ARE wanted. In Afghanistan where I believe the we DO have a threat of Al-Qaeda.

So I admire the service of your son and I want him to be proud, but I want him to be safe, And as President, I want you to know that I would withdraw our forces as rapidly as our commanders say we can do it.

I graduated a son this year, tomorrow is his Open House celebration. What can I tell him, and my younger two boys what a Richardson Administration will do to assure them a shot at the American Dream?

You can tell them a Richardson Administration would say young people have a huge stake in this election. I would say to them a Richardson Administration would, # 1, attack a problem that hopefully their generation won't have to face. And that is a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. This is a planet that is today, dirty. That unless we take drastic steps to reduce green house gas emissions we are going to leave his generation a planet that has a less quality of life. Secondly, you can tell them that a Richardson Administration would attack, in a bipartisan way, the issue of the deficit. His generation is going to be loaded with a defect of 8.8 trillion dollars. In a bipartisan way I would commit to him that we would end the deficit and try to generate an economy that is inclusive of the middle class a globalization that today does not include the Middle Class. Third, I would say to your sons, that a Richardson Administration, also in a bipartisan way, is going to try to deal with the safety net for his generation, and that is Social Security and Medicare. We got to find a way that Social Security and Medicare are preserved, are economically sustainable in the out years and that we stop telling young people that Social Security and Medicare are going to be there forever for them. That requires also a bipartisan solution.

Most importantly I want you to tell your sons that a Richardson Administration will try to bring this country together. We are deeply divided over Immigration, over Iraq, over a whole variety of strains on the middle class. Instead of thinking of ourselves as red states or blue states, rural and urban we should think of ourselves as a united country. One way to bring this country together is to say to the body politic, Congress and the administration, that basically has today a dysfunctional relationship, that we got to resolve the problems in this country in a bipartisan way! We got to heal this country, we got to bring people together. We got to unify this country on the basis of common goals.

As JFK Said, it is important that we start thinking about how collectively we can help this country rather than a government that is basically saying everyone is on their own. That is not America

And to do that we need Governor Bill Richardson as our President



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