October 7th, 2007
04:58 PM ET
11 years ago

Citing Iraq plans, Richardson adviser defects to Biden campaign

Richardson's plan would immediately withdraw all U.S. forces from Iraq and focus on diplomacy.

COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) - One of New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson's South Carolina advisers is leaving the presidential campaign because of Richardson's Iraq plan and signing up with Sen. Joe Biden.

Citing Richardson's liberal stance on Iraq, which would immediately remove all U.S. forces from Iraq, the campaign's South Carolina state co-chair Fletcher Smith said Biden's plan to divide Iraq into three federal regions is a more responsible plan.

"To me it's the only way this problem is going to be resolved," Smith said in a phone interview Saturday morning. "Right now we have a quicksand of a civil war, and I don't believe we can just pull out precipitously in a six month period of time without jeopardizing our interests in the region. We don't need another evacuation that we had in Vietnam."

Smith serves in the South Carolina House of Representatives and is a member of the South Carolina Legislative Black Caucus. Smith has been the co-chair of Richardson's South Carolina steering committee since July.

He said he had spoken with Richardson and his staff.

Smith said he did not consider joining any other Democratic campaign besides Biden's, and noted he was drawn to Biden because he is an Irish-American.

"Irish-Americans faced the same problems African-Americans have faced in this country," Smith said.

The Richardson campaign did not comment on Smith, but defended the Governor's Iraq plan.

"Governor Richardson has a real plan to get our troops out of Iraq," said Richardson spokesman Lachlan McIntosh. "He's the only major candidate who will get all of our troops out quickly and leave no residual forces whatsoever. Our men and women are currently targets in Iraq. The longer we stay, the more will die."

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- CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby

Filed under: Bill Richardson • Iraq • Joe Biden • South Carolina
soundoff (56 Responses)
  1. Brian, Syracuse NY

    What's irresponsible is sending more of my brothers and sisters to die in a foreign country that has no value to us whatsoever. Governor Richardson is the only candidate who has a responsible, effective plan for redeploying our military out of harm's way and modernizing the armed forces to face tomorrow's challenges. If Smith wants to play politics and take a more electorally-friendly stand that's his prerogative, but Gov. Richardson is fighting hard for what's right and I commend him for that.

    October 6, 2007 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  2. Asa

    Did Irish-Americans arrive in America in shackles?

    October 6, 2007 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  3. Rafael A. Cardoso, Miami, Florida

    I think Gov Richardosn is right about getting our troops out asap. I ref to Sen Joe Biden, we do not own Irak, we should not impose to the Iraqis anything. The Iraqis should make their own desitions. Is about time for us not to intervine with other countries, political or military.
    Thankd Rafael A. Cardoso

    October 6, 2007 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    "He's the only major candidate who will get all of our troops out quickly and leave no residual forces whatsoever."

    Well, thats a complete fabrication and CNN shouldn't be spreading this misinformation without a disclaimer – Don't forget about Dr. Ron Paul. The only one (besides Kucinich, i think) to vote against the Iraq war IN THE FIRST PLACE.

    Don't you find it interesting that it is so seemingly difficult to find a true anti-war candidate against nation building and pre-emptive war, despite 6 years of warmongering and living under the Bush Administration? I wonder why that is. Could the media be pushing a pro-war agenda? Hmmmm....

    October 6, 2007 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  5. Veronica, Jacksonville, FL

    Oh great, are we colonizing Iraq now. If they want to break up into three parts, let them do it themselves! When will we stop playing God?

    October 6, 2007 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  6. Chris, Orlando, FL

    You cannot make any changes if you don't get elected. Governor Richardson will not be elected for a multitude of reasons – the least of which is his Iraq-pull-out plan. While it's sad that politics has little to do with integrity and more to due with money, it is the reality and we would do well not to forget that. If you don't like the way the system is run, then work to change it, but don't commend a candidate for raising tax-payer funds with a set of plans and principles that will result in a waste of those donations.

    October 6, 2007 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  7. Jen, Boston, MA

    People are finally beginning to realize that Biden's plan is the only thing that even has a chance to work. More people will follow Smith's lead and begin to defect to the Biden campaign.

    October 6, 2007 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  8. Chris Hassel, Saint Paul, Minnesota

    I agree with Brian's comments, though I think Iraq, at the epicenter of the Middle East, is indeed important to our country's foreign policy future. Still, whether or not you agree with this, one thing is certain: the ludicrous conceit that suggests keeping our troops in Iraq will in some way ease sectarian tensions in that country is just that–ludicrous. The vast majority of Iraqis want our troops out of Iraq, the vast majority our citizens want our troops out of Iraq, and the only way we can start to work on policies that bring much of the rest of the world onboard regarding peacefully settling the Iraq issue is if we do the following: 1.) make good on a promise to remove our troops from Iraq; 2.) immediately conduct intense diplomatic discussions with Iraq and its neighbors, as well as our friends and allies throughout the world, centered on how to best settle this scenario with Iraqis in the lead; and 3.) bring in a U.N. (or otherwise world-) peacekeeping force that is made up, ethnically and religiously, of a demographic more suitable to the people of the various regions on Iraq, with joint U.N./U.S./E.U./world oversight, or some combination of those entities. Keeping our forces in that country, where they are seen as occupiers, is retarding the process of political reconciliation, and even a passing glance of the history of the region would have assured us of that outcome prior to initially attacking Baghdad, which suggests that our long-term planning is currently done by people who have little regard for history. Governor Richardson is a pro at foreign affairs, he's worked in and with Middle Eastern countries, and he is, quite frankly, correct in his analysis of this situation. It's time to remove from our policies the last vestiges of backwards colonialism and start to re-build our international power and influence in more sane, proactive manners. It's time to listen to Governor Richardson.

    October 6, 2007 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  9. David, Tucson, Arizona

    I had hoped to support Richardson because of his wide ranging experience, especially in foreign affairs. However I changed my mind because I consider his Iraq plan "grand standing" for political gain.

    As a seasoned diplomat and a graduate of one of the top foreign affairs schools in the US, he knows full well that we can't walk away in six months.

    I think the war in Iraq is the one of the worst foreign policy blunder ever committed by the US Government. I am saddened by the lives that we have wasted there and I have nothing. I have the highest regard for the military. They are trying their best to carryout an impossible task and doing pretty well all things considered.

    Nonetheless, and contrary to the previous comment, we do have significant interests and responsibilities in the country and the region. Now that we have been stuck into this mess we can't simply walk away. Let's hope the next president who clearly will not be Richardson will find a half way decent solution.

    October 6, 2007 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  10. J. Enzor, Boulder, Colorado

    "Citing Richardson's liberal stance on Iraq, which would immediately remove all U.S. forces from Iraq, the campaign's South Carolina state co-chair Fletcher Smith said Biden's plan to divide Iraq into three federal regions is a more responsible plan"

    So....is what way, exactly, is Richardson's stance "liberal?"

    He takes a position on bringing troops home....that's a policy question. I can't see how liberal or conserative philosophy is at all involved.

    October 6, 2007 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  11. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    Keep troops safe, bring 'em home, let the Muslims kill their own. Do it now, by any means necessary.

    October 6, 2007 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  12. Ryter, El Lay CA

    Did Irish-Americans arrive in America in shackles?

    No. But they did arrive shoe-less. Up until the mid-1930s there were signs in the shop windows saying: "Help Wanted. Irish need not apply."
    Granted, not near as traumatic as shackles.

    October 6, 2007 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  13. laurinda,ny

    Mr. Smith is a little confused. Where he came up with the idea the Irish faced problems in America more than any other nationality is ridiculous. Everyone who came here was disliked. That's why they had their own neighborhoods.

    October 6, 2007 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  14. Steve

    What was the jerkwad doing working for Richardson in the first place?

    Sounds like a planned, aiming-for-sensationalism, premeditated move.

    Richardson has always been firmly against the war. We can easily pull out in six months from Iraq, because we're not doing a bit of good. The country is a wreck. The people hate us. Bush and this stupid war has CREATED far more terrorists that hate America than would've been without our brainless invasion.

    The only reason we're staying is, to allow war criminals Bush & Cheney to get out of office without doing anything to clean up the gigantic catastrophe that is Iraq, to go along with the continued catastrophe that is New Orleans, to go along with the catastrophe that *used* to be our Bill of Rights, criminal Haliburton, etc. ad nauseum.

    October 6, 2007 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  15. timbuck, houston, tx

    I fully support Governor Richardson. US citizens have no legitamate business in Iraq. They should all come home tonight. bush can go pound sand.

    October 6, 2007 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  16. Brian, Syracuse NY

    Don't forget it was Time magazine that called Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. a traitor for opposing the Vietnam War before he died.

    October 6, 2007 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  17. Pam Holt Los Angeles, CA

    Fletcher Smith said: "I don't believe we can just pull out precipitously in a six month period of time without jeopardizing our interests in the region."

    I have to wonder what he means our interests in the region are?

    Would that be OIL?

    Sick bastards.

    Our brave kids over there deserve a life too! Let the ones that haven't died or been maimed yet COME HOME! What could be more important than protecting our troops? Our occupation is only making the world more dangerous.

    Kucinich- Strength through PEACE~

    October 6, 2007 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  18. Jackson, Atlanta, GA

    Oh look, segregation.

    October 6, 2007 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  19. Caleb Pritchard - Austin, TX

    Wow. Bill Richardson's policy of immediate withdrawl is "liberal"? That's the most innacurate, incompetent use of that particular label I've heard in a long time.

    October 6, 2007 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  20. Terry, El Paso, TX

    So….is what way, exactly, is Richardson's stance "liberal?"

    I'm a liberal myself and I don't understand that either. Liberalism has always been a pretty militant philosophy, preferring to confront totalitarianism rather than do business with it.

    It was Wilson who initiated WWI; Roosevelt, WWII, Truman, Korea; Johnson, Viet Nam. If you count Lincoln as a Liberal, as I do, then we must also include the Civil War.

    Conservative Republicans have initated three wars: Reagan in Grenada, Bush (the good one) Kuwait, and Bush (the other one) Iraq.

    So the score is four wars for Liberalism and three for Conservatism.

    There are no Liberals in government at the moment. Those who mistake current Democrats for Liberals might also mistake a teddy bear for a panther.

    October 6, 2007 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  21. Cara, Albuquerque, NM

    Wow, I didn't know how sad the plight of the Irish-American was, the lynchings, the bad vaudevillian acts, slavery, continued economic and social oppression, the watermelon and fried chicken remarks. Truly tragic.

    Seriously though, a lot of ethnic groups have had it rough, have been mistreated, and continue to be. I don't hear ethnic slurs about the Irish anymore, but Italians, Mexicans, and Native Americans are continually denigrated.

    What a bizarre statement by Mr. Smith. Further evidence of a break with reality?

    October 6, 2007 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  22. J Houston, TX

    redeploying our military out of harm's way

    That is what a military does moron. They step in harm's way to protect others. The iraqi people were oppressed for years by Saddam and the bathe party. It's a NOBLE thing to be making the effort for change there. We put Saddam in power in the first place, it is OUR responsibility to rectify the problem. We have a responsibility, a liability to be there.

    Suggesting we should abandon these people to chaos and madness is absurd. They are fleeing their homes in fear and we are the only ones stepping up to the plate to try and control things. If the UN had the balls to help in the first place instead of worrying about THE OIL SUPPLY THEY LOST WHEN SADDAM LOST POWER then maybe we wouldn't be solely shouldering the burden.

    October 6, 2007 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  23. Laura, NY

    Smith's action does not go far enough. He should have joined John McCain's (Republican)campaign. Joe Biden cannot decide fate of Iraq. He wants to follow British Empire whose policy was to divide and rule as they did in Palestine, in India. Clinton was responsible for the breakaway of former Yugoslavia. American people are all brainwashed by these left-wing democrats and they have become anti-war. Democrats voted for war and now they want our troops to lose in Iraq. Thank God, we have a president who is not wavering despite attach by the media and persons like Bill Richardson and alike.

    October 6, 2007 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  24. Sylvia San Antonio,Tx.

    The United States Flag pin on the lapel IS a sign of patiotism,contrary to what Barack Saddam Obama and others think. A presidential candidate for the United States of America especially should be the one to wear one.

    October 6, 2007 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  25. sonya, atlanta, ga

    Has anyone seen footage of the fall of Saigon? the mass choas, people being left behind who were pro american and them and their families being killed. Then the Vetcongs using our equipment to committ genocide on their own people. The visual left America devastated and it took over 30 years for the American psyche to recover and we haven't totally recovered.

    I'm all for bring our troops home, but in a safe way. As Colin Powell said, we broke the damn cookie jar over there and we have to protect our embassy, aide workers and have some special forces and/or troops to fight Al quedi so it won't become another Afganistan and we need to protect against genocide which has already begun there.

    Bring the troops home. But bring them back in a safe, orderly way.

    October 6, 2007 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
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