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Richardson Campaign Press Release - Governor Richardson Demonstrates Bold Leadership at CNN Debate in Nevada

November 15, 2007

Richardson has strong performance on day he is nominated for fifth time for Nobel Peace Prize

LAS VEGAS, NV-- On his birthday and the day he was nominated for a fifth time for the Nobel Peace Prize, New Mexico Governor and Democratic Presidential candidate Bill Richardson established himself as the most experienced candidate at the CNN/Nevada Democratic Party Presidential Debate tonight.

Amid rising negativity on the campaign trail, Richardson asked his fellow candidates to stop the personal attacks and focus on the issues.

"You know, it seems that John wants to start a class war," Richardson said. "It seems that Barack wants to start a generational war. It seems that Senator Clinton, with all due respect on her plan on Iraq, does not have a plan to end the war. All I want to do is give peace a chance. I say that because these are the fundamental issues. Do our plans end the war? Do our plans make America energy independent? Do our plans give health care to every American? Are we creating jobs and economic growth? Are we resolving the real problems affecting this country? Let us stop this mudslinging. Let us stop going after one another on character and trust. Let us debate the issues that affect the American people, and let us be positive."

As the only major Democratic Presidential candidate to commit to getting all of our troops out of Iraq, Richardson dominated the discussion on the Iraq war.

"We should not be talking about body counts," Richardson said. "One American death is too many. The surge is not working. There is now less of a possibility of a political solution. Three out of the 18 benchmarks of the General Accounting Office have been fulfilled. Even for Republican math, that is a failing grade. The Iraqi people now say that it is okay to shoot an American soldier. Our troops are dying. Unlike my colleagues, my plan does not leave any forces behind. We should not just wave goodbye; we need a U.S.-led political compromise. The Sunni, Shia, and Kurds should share power and oil revenues. The European Union and rich Arab states should contribute to the reconstruction of Iraq. We have spent $500 billion on this war. Instead, this money should be used in America for health care, education, and on kids.

"I would pull out all of the contractors. I would get all of them out, just like I would get all of our troops out, including residual forces. I would do it within a year. What I believe we need to do is to reform our military. I would increase military pay, educational benefits, and create a new G.I. Bill for our military. With regard to our veterans and military families, I would have a Heroes Health Card for every military person in this country. That would mean that they could get health care, not just at the VA system, but anywhere they want. I would fully guarantee funding at the VA. Most importantly, the big challenge is mental health. We do not treat mental health with the parity that it deserves. For our troops coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan, there is a huge mental trauma burden. Our VA and mental health systems do not give veterans the coverage they deserve."

Richardson's strong debate performance illustrated that he is the candidate who best represents experience and change.

"Tonight, we have talked about Iran, we have talked about Iraq, and we have talked about regimes that have not been friendly," Richardson said. "My policy would be diplomacy through negotiation. We would not be the world's policeman, but rather the world's conscience. All my life, as Ambassador to the United Nations, as a special envoy, through bipartisan solutions as a Governor, as a Congressman, and as Secretary of Energy, I have brought people together. Specifically on the Middle East, I would have a Middle East peace envoy. This President is the only President who has not had one. I would have protection for the security of Israel and a Palestinian state. I also would look at adjustments to the 1967 borders. I would look at dealing with Jerusalem effectively, efficiently, and fairly on the settlements issue. I would talk to Syria, and I would talk to Iran. That is called leadership and diplomacy. To take these steps, you have to be bold. We are talking about electing a President who will need to repair the enormous damage caused by this administration over the last eight years."

A former Secretary of Energy, Richardson also discussed his bold plan to solve the energy crisis.

"The future is renewable energy," Richardson said. "It is not oil, it is not coal, and it is not nuclear. We need an energy revolution in this country to shift from fossil fuels to renewable sources-- 50% by the year 2020. We need an 80% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions as a mandate. We need to have 30% of our electricity be renewable. It is also going to be the American people sacrificing a little bit when it comes to being part of an energy efficiency revolution."

Richardson proved that his experience as a border Governor has prepared him to achieve comprehensive immigration reform as President.

"I am a Governor-- I am in New Mexico, not Washington," Richardson said. "I am the only one who has dealt with the immigration issue directly. We need to talk about bringing this country together. A dysfunctional relationship exists between the President and Congress-- that needs to be corrected. Two years ago, I was the first Governor to declare a border emergency because the federal government was not doing its job in stopping the flow of drugs and people. We should stop demonizing immigrants. I am against the fence because it will not work. The Congress only funded half of the fence, and it is not American. I would do four things. First, we have to secure the border and double the number of border patrol agents. We need to keep the National Guard there longer and use detection equipment. Second, those that knowingly hire illegal workers should be punished. Third, we should have a relationship, called foreign policy, with Mexico. Mexico is our friend, but we should speak frankly to our friends. It should go something like this-- Mexico, give jobs to your people. At the very least, stop handing out maps on the easiest places to cross. Lastly, we need a legalization plan-- not amnesty, not citizenship, but a path to legalization that involves conditions, including learning English and paying back taxes."

Bill Richardson, Richardson Campaign Press Release - Governor Richardson Demonstrates Bold Leadership at CNN Debate in Nevada Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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