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Bill Richardson Joins Growing Pool of Presidential Candidates


The Democratic governor of the southwestern U.S. state of New Mexico, Bill Richardson, is taking the first step toward running in 2008 elections for the White House. He is the latest figure to declare his intentions, in an increasingly crowded field of potential U.S. presidential candidates. VOA's Stephanie Ho reports from Washington.

New Mexico governor Bill Richardson publicly declared his intention to run for president in a video posted on his website Sunday.

In discussing the decision on the ABC television program This Week, Richardson outlined his priorities, which included the war in Iraq, U.S. dependence on foreign oil and domestic issues.

"The next president must be able to get us out of Iraq, must be able to restore America's international standing," said Bill Richardson. "The next president must be able to make us energy independent, must be able to make schools better, to create jobs, to give the American people, every American, a fair shot at an economy that right now favors those that are most fortunate."

On Iraq, Richardson opposes President Bush's plan to increase U.S. troops there, and instead calls for establishing a timetable to pull U.S. troops out by the end of this year.

The New Mexico governor's interest in energy is reinforced by his experience as Energy Secretary, in the Clinton Administration. He also emphasized his foreign affairs experience, which includes time spent as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, hosting talks on North Korea's nuclear program, and discussions with Sudan's president on the crisis in Darfur.

More than a year before the first primary votes are cast for the 2008 elections, the field of U.S. presidential candidates is growing fast. Richardson's presidential candidacy announcement closely follows announcements by better known Democrats, Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. The two lawmakers are considered to be the front-runners for the Democratic party, which overall has nine candidates.

Richardson, who describes himself as a tireless worker and an enthusiastic campaigner, would be the nation's first Hispanic president, if elected. He said he feels being a minority will not be a hindrance for him or for his two Democratic competitors.

"I believe this country is a very tolerant, positive country," he said. "I believe the country would be ready for a woman president, an African American president, a Hispanic president."

Meanwhile, there are also nine candidates on the Republican side, including Senator John McCain and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. President Bush, who is in his second four-year term, is restricted by the U.S. Constitution from running again.