Inside the Capitol

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Richardson staying busy but not out of trouble

51313 Richardson

SANTA FE – As long as we have been talking about Gov. Susana Martinez and former Gov. Garry Carruthers, we don't want former Gov. B ill Richardson to feel left out.

While our current governor darts around the nation and world, our immediate past governor, Bill Richardson is doing much the same. He is serving on numerous boards, some of which he heads. He is speaking at prestigious universities.
And he is writing a book, "How to Sweet Talk a Shark." It tells of his experiences successfully negotiating with dictators.
Richardson says the secrets are to connect with them personally. Let them vent about how badly the United States has treated them. Find out what they really need, not what they say they need. And use humor.
Negotiating with dictators is dangerous business. Richardson was basically by himself with no protection other than his own wits. He always had quiet approval of the presidents he served and he was a U.S. official.
But it all was taking place on a back channel. Richardson was good at it and has lived to tell the story. The book comes out this fall but he already is being interviewed on television and in newspapers.
And Richardson is still getting invited to prestigious events in our nation's capital – like Vice President Joe Biden's Cinco de Mayo party at his residence in Washington, D.C. Yes, that is the same party to which Gov. Martinez was invited. Neither was aware the other was invited.
They were both seated at the head table but staff members report neither spoke to the other during the entire party.
Two days later, on the real Cinco de Mayo, Richardson was asked on an ABC News web interview if he felt new Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was Hispanic enough to represent Hispanic views. Richardson said he wasn't because Cruz's views on immigration were so opposed to the views of most Hispanics.
GOP leaders were incensed, calling it an insult. Richardson tried to walk back his comments on Fox News the next day but it was an unconvincing response.
But there could be more to this than has met the eye of any reporter I have read thus far. Cruz doesn't speak much Spanish and it has given him some grief even from Republicans.
In the Texas GOP primary, a Republican opponent, who isn't Hispanic but can speak Spanish, challenged Cruz to debate in Spanish, knowing Cruz couldn't accept. Richardson may have been trying to twist the knife a little.
Richardson seems to be enjoying retirement. At first he said he was looking forward to taking it easy. He spoke of buying a car and visiting every Major League Baseball stadium in the nation. He established a website but it didn't have much on it for a while. But now it is crammed with information about all his activities.
Richardson seems to enjoy being a private citizen. When he was criticized for going to North Korea on a business trip, he answered that he now is a private citizen and can do what he wants without fearing political repercussions.
Earlier this week, he said he wants to stop the horse slaughterhouse in Roswell and do it as a private citizen. Richardson, by the way, loves horses. He kept a horse at a Northern New Mexico ranch while he was governor and probably still does.
Richardson doesn't say much on his website about the organizations he works for. During the year after he left his cabinet spot at the Department of Energy, Richardson worked for the Henry Kissinger lobbying firm and didn't say much about it until it became a minor issue in the Democratic gubernatorial primary.
Now Richardson now is involved with a company called APCO. It is the nation's second largest public relations firm. One of its many clients is a coalition created by Phillip Morris that brought some grief to Gary Carruthers last week.


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