Richardson Stands Out in Today’s Debate

Today’s Democratic debate helps demonstrate that Obama might have made the right decision in limiting debate appearances. This debate will not make a difference in the race but there were a couple of answers I found interesting. Previously Bill Richardson’s campaign has been hampered by poor showings in the debate. I doubt that enough people watched today’s debate for it to matter, but if anyone can be declared the winner it would be Richardson.

There was more of the attempts to attack Obama for being inexperienced. Bill Richardson turned this discussion to his advantage:

You know, I think that Senator Obama does represent change. Senator Clinton has experience. Change and experience: With me, you get both.

And you know, my point — and, here, we’re going to need change to become energy independent. We’re going to need experience to deal with foreign leaders, as I have.You know, it’s interesting. You talk about the dispute between the two senators over dictators that — should we; should we not meet?

I’ve met them already, most of them. All my life I’ve been a diplomat, trying to bring people together.

When they got into substance, Stephanopoulos showed once again that Clinton has basically been criticizing Obama for a statement similar to one she made in the past. I increasingly see Clinton’s strategy as attacking on invented issues while avoiding saying much about real issues.

A viewer emailed, “My question is to understand each candidates’ view of a personal God. Do they believe that, through the power of prayer, disasters like Hurricane Katrina or the Minnesota bridge collapse could have been prevented or lessened?”

Nobody gave the Arnold Vinick answer which I would have preferred, but Bill Richardson handled it best:

I pray. I’m a Roman Catholic. My sense of social justice, I believe, comes from being a Roman Catholic.

But, in my judgment, prayer is personal. And how I pray and how any American prays, for what reason, is their own decision. And it should be respected.

And so, in my view, I think it’s important that we have faith, that we have values, but if I’m president, I’m not going to wear my religion on my sleeve and impose it on anybody.

Richardson didn’t really answer the question specifically about things he might have left out when advocating for a cause but he did have a good response:

And, you know, I make a lot of misstatements. I’m not the scripted candidate. But I think when the chips are down, when the time comes to get hostages out from Saddam Hussein or persuade the North Koreans to reduce their nuclear arsenal, or bring back the remains of American servicemen, I perform.

But the reality is, what the American people want is a president who says, “I will follow the Constitution of the United States; I will not go to war unless the Congress authorizes me to go to war.”

And we’re going to get rid of those blemishes that America has, like Guantanamo, like eavesdropping on our citizens, like policies of torture, like returning habeas corpus.

I think if we simply say that we are in an America of checks and balances, where the judiciary and the executive and the legislative branches have an equal role, that we’re honoring the principles of freedom, where America stands.

There was also discussion on Iraq in which Richardson managed to stand out from the others with his call to remove all American troops. There was also a lot of talk on views held before the war, with Kucinich and Obama being the winners on this question before a word is even said.

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3 Comments

  1. 1
    Badger3k says:

    If that’s handling it best, then we’re still in trouble with the Democrats. He completely avoided answering the question. You can tell he is a politician from his sidestepping. The idea that he thinks having beliefs based on a lack of evidence is a good thing is still depressing (yeah, I know, they are all that way, but it’s still depressing). At least he says he won’t impose his religion on anybody.

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    Every candidate side steps such issues. Unfortuantely no candidate is likely to answer as Vinick did on The West Wing. Check out the video which I linked to in the post if you haven’t seen it.

  3. 3
    Stephen Cassidy says:

    Clinton, Obama and Edwards aren’t confident enough in their judgment and lack the foreign policy expertise to order a complete withdrawal should they get elected. We saw this today again at the debate in Iowa. They’ll keep forces in Iraq for years to come.

    What difference then will there be on the most important issue of the campaign between the Democratic and Republican Presidential nominees?

    The path out of Iraq for Clinton, Obama and Edwards will be a long march spread over years. That will be true as well with any Republican Presidential nominee. No Republican will advocate an endless commitment to Iraq. All will be critical to a degree of how Bush has waged the war.

    I am supporting Richardson in part because he has the best plan for leaving Iraq. William M. Arkin who writes on National and Homeland Security for the Washington Post recently commented:

    “It is on Iraq though, that Richardson really shines. “I believe that we need to withdraw all of our troops within six months,” he writes. “Other than the customary Marine contingent at the embassy, I would not leave anyone behind. And if the embassy isn’t safe, they’re coming home too. No airbases. No troops in the Green Zone. No embedded soldiers training Iraqi forces, because we know what that means. It means our troops would still be out on patrol — with targets on their backs.”

    We are spending $10 billion a month on Iraq, Richardson says. “Of the many ways in which Mr. Bush’s ill-conceived war has distracted us from our real national security needs, this is the most dangerous,” he concludes. “There is not a single sign that Iraq is improving. To the contrary, every indication is that it’s getting worse, and a smaller force will do nothing to change that.”

    And so Bill Richardson says something that the other candidates evidently can’t or won’t: “A regional crisis is worthy of military intervention. A true threat to our country’s security is worthy of war. But a struggle between a country’s warring factions, where both sides hate the United States, is not worthy of one more lost American life.””

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