Sunday, November 09, 2008

The Case for Bill Richardson at Secretary of State

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As the Democrats look to build an administration composed of the best and brightest that the Party has to offer, the Obama Biden Transition Project should be considering New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson for Secretary of State.

The former presidential candidate has more high-profile international relations experience than most. He can be an imposing figure both literally and figuratively; he stands at 6' 4" and is respected in both parties and around the world. And as one of the most prominent Latinos in the country would add diversity to the upper echelon of the cabinet.

Governor Richardson's endorsement of Barack Obama came at an integral time in the primary contest: right after the Rev. Wright news broke and just before the Pennsylvania primary. It came at a time when Obama needed the boost, when support from a former primary rival and a leading member of the Hispanic community helped to deflect the Wright controversy.

Though it's feasible that Vice President-Elect Joe Biden, with his extensive experience in foreign policy, will have some influence as to who is selected for the position at State. The most prominent name mentioned recently has been 2004 Democratic Presidential Nominee John Kerry, whom Biden probably has a better relationship with. Kerry certainly has the experience to do the job.

Yet as former United Nations Ambassador, Richardson isn't just someone who has experience in foreign affairs - he has a reputation that makes him a requested commodity among leaders of other countries. He has negotiated cease fires and the release of hostages in troubled regions around the world. In 2007, he worked with the Bush administration to work with North Korea in order to receive the remains of soldiers from the Korean War.

In full disclosure: I worked on Gov. Richardson's campaign for president this year. Though that doesn't change the fact that the man is uniquely qualified to lead the nation in foreign affairs and provide significant gravitas to the United States as we seek to repair our relationships in the world.