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Politicians, Officials Reflect on Death of Bill Richardson

FILE - Former US diplomat Bill Richardson speaks in New York, Nov. 16, 2021.
FILE - Former US diplomat Bill Richardson speaks in New York, Nov. 16, 2021.

Politicians and officials are sharing memories and reflections on the life of Bill Richardson following news of his death on Saturday.

The two-term governor of the U.S. state of New Mexico, who served as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and worked to free detained Americans, died in his sleep at his home in Chatham, Massachusetts. He was 75.

In a statement Saturday, U.S. President Joe Biden said Richardson wore many weighty titles during his life – member of Congress, governor, ambassador, Cabinet secretary.

"He seized every chance to serve and met every new challenge with joy, determined to do the most good for his country, his beloved New Mexico, and Americans around the world," Biden said in the statement. "Few have served our nation in as many capacities or with as much relentlessness, creativity, and good cheer. He will be deeply missed."

Richardson, the son of a Mexican mother and an American father, attempted to become the first Hispanic American U.S. president but dropped out of the 2008 race when it became clear that he did not have a chance of winning. He then endorsed Barack Obama.

"As a member of Congress, a Cabinet member, a Governor, and as an Ambassador, Bill Richardson was one of the most distinguished public servants of our time," Obama posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. "He was a tireless diplomat, the type of advocate who brought a glimmer of hope – and in many cases freedom – to those Americans detained abroad under the most trying circumstances."

Richardson represented northern New Mexico in Congress for 14 years and served as the U.S. energy secretary under President Bill Clinton.

"He was a masterful and persistent negotiator who helped make our world more secure and won the release of many individuals held unjustly abroad," Clinton said in a statement. "He was also a trailblazer whose career helped pave the path for other Latino Americans to serve at the highest levels of American government."

In 2002, he was elected governor of New Mexico, a post he held for two terms, from 2003 to 2011.

During his congressional tenure and afterward, Richardson earned a reputation as a skilled negotiator, after gaining the release of a number of Americans after meeting at different times with foreign leaders that included Saddam Hussein, Fidel Castro and officials in North Korea and Myanmar.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, "Governor Richardson dedicated his life to public service and worked tirelessly to release Americans held hostage overseas."