January 10th, 2008
05:01 PM ET
5 years ago

Frustration with Washington makes 'experience' a liability

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson is a former congressman, ambassador and energy secretary.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson is a former congressman, ambassador and energy secretary.

COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) - If experience were the only qualification, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson would be a shoo-in for president.

But with frustration with the political system running high and candidates who call for "change" enjoying success on the campaign trail, experience scores few points with voters - and, in fact, may be a liability.

Richardson, a former congressman, ambassador and Cabinet member, couldn't get any traction during his presidential run, and he announced Thursday he was dropping out of the Democratic race.

"The time has come to end my quest and come home to tackle the challenges before us in New Mexico," Richardson told cheering supporters in his state capital of Santa Fe.

In his final debate Saturday, Richardson seemed frustrated by the notion that experience was a liability.

"Look, what we need is change. There's no question. But, you know, whatever happened to experience? Is experience kind of a leper?" Richardson asked. "What is wrong with having been, like myself, 14 years in the Congress, two Cabinet positions?"

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Filed under: Bill Richardson
soundoff (61 Responses)
  1. Vic Novosad, Sugar Land, TX

    We hope Governor will throw his popularity and experience directly in support of Hillary Clinton. He has done so much for this country, it's hard to believe this wonderful American would endorse someone who has served only ONE YEAR
    in the Senate.

    January 10, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  2. sheila

    I'm amazed that more people haven't done the math...for anyone born in the 1980's-you know, the "youth vote", those 18 to 26 or so-all they've ever known is an America with either a Bush or a Clinton in the White House. I have three daughters who fall into that age group, and they are just whom Clinton is courting these days. None of them, however has any interest in voting for her, as they do not see her as a vehicle for change, but as part of the established culture in D.C. As my middle daughter said,"how can there be democracy in this country when you see these two warring dynastic families vying for power. It shouldn't be your name that gets t you to the head of the pack, it should be your ideas and vision for the country." This is why they all support Barack Obama and his message of hope and systemic change in the way this country is governed.

    January 10, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  3. Prayu

    Lincoln did not have a lot of experience before he became President either.

    The importance of individual experience for the Presidency is far overblown; they have cabinet members for a reason. Seldom will a President craft a strategy or make a major decision without the help of a team of very experienced and knowledgeable advisers. And that is why the most -important- qualities of a President, is the ability to inspire trust and hope in the people, to keep the country united through any problem.

    Don't fall for Hillary's political tricks. She's far less experienced than the now dropped Richardson, and we'll have four more years of a bickering, backstabbing Washington if she gets elected. One of the changes that Obama talks about, is changing the politics of our nation. Notice his lack of attack ads, his calm and steady demeanor when facing protests at his own rally. Notice his total honesty when admitting that he came close to a drug problem in his youth. This is the strength of character we need in a leader.

    Obama/Richardson '08

    January 10, 2008 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  4. nobama

    The problem, Bill is that, (like McCain) after 14 years in the Congress you didn't "change" anything then. What makes voters think you'll change anything now?

    January 10, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  5. debraj ganguly

    Americans are cocooned between hawaii and mainland. if the go for a change to rest of world, they will com back only to oppose "change"ing something that's not broken.

    January 10, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |

    On his New Mexico Governor's website is the phone number for Bill Richardson's New Mexico Governor's office. HILLARY supporters, please call him and ask for his support now that he is leaving the race. remind him of his statement that EXPERIENCE matters!

    January 10, 2008 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  7. Tom Davie

    go figure.

    George Bushie wreckes the country and now everyones experience is crap.

    Sooner or later people need to UNDERSTAND they are NOT going to somehow CHANGE washington.

    NOBODY HAS EVER CHANGED WASHINGTON. Not kennedy, not lincoln not anyone.

    What we need is to get these #@@$$ to work together and forget the party divide.

    Getting a public MOUTHPIECE is a far cry different than getting POLITICIANS to work together. This takes EXPERIENCE. Not just quoting from JFK and Martin Luther king.

    We the people and the politicians that represent us have to STOP trying to divide us on every issue.

    This INCLUDES people within the same parties.

    January 10, 2008 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  8. K-Romeo

    If you havebeen apart of the past, you havebeen apart of the problem. The change we need isn't that of a black president but and honest president with new ideas and visions, and that candidate is, Obama. I would be ashame if I was Hillary or any of the other candidates to say they have experiece and have served time in the office making changes. What I'm trying to say is, look at our world today and were it stands, and listen to the candidates bragging about being apart of bringing it to this place. A lot of people just don't get it, especially the other candidates. If Obama was white or any other race I would support him for his belief, his vision, and most important of all, his inexperience. I really wouldn't support him if he had the kind of experience that have our country in the state its in today. New ideas, new visions is what we need and if a white, black, mexican or other can bring this about, I'm all for him. K-Romeo Southfield MI

    January 10, 2008 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  9. curtis

    This saddens me deeply. Mr Richardson was a good candidate and is a good man. I can't wait 'til he is Vice President.

    I hate to say this,but one must be realistic. When Clinton or Obama is elected - there will be a much higher risk of assassination than with other presidents. Besides the regular whackjobs, you will have the racists and misogynistic whackjobs.

    We need a very strong VP from Day 1 - and Richardson is that VP. Hopefully, hopefully, he will only be called upon to be a VP, but if not, we would be in good hands.

    And he will be in a good position to run as President again if he still has the desire then.

    January 10, 2008 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  10. Dave in NM

    So can I assume that no comments means this is true? Anyone want to say if experience is important in their decision of which Dem candidate to back?

    I for one think experience is the most important thing to look at in a candidate – I don't gamble with my choice for commander in chief. What a candidate has done in the past shows that they can follow through on their campaign rhetoric.

    Chris Dodd for VP!!

    January 10, 2008 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  11. Jeremy, Portland OR

    The issue with Richardson was 'experience'? Swing and a miss on that one. How about 'ethnicity.' Whether people will admit it or not, the idea of a bilingual president is a major turn-off for voters who are still locked in a highly xenophobic mindset. The republicans would have had a not-so-subtle-racist field day with Richardson's background and the dems knew it. That, not experience, is why the dems wouldn't back Richardson. Just look at the fiasco we've had with immigration over the last few years. We have a president who vetos child health care bills to throw trillions of dollars at a war that even his speech writers can't seem to cogently defend anymore. Did this trouble the average voter? No. Mexican bus-boys and farm workers did. After 43 white-males in a row, our progressive country may be finally willing to consider a female president or even African-American one, but Mexcian? You must be dreaming.

    January 10, 2008 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  12. fm

    Maybe Rove could help him learn to lie. After all, he did a great job working for Bush II.

    January 10, 2008 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  13. Brigitte

    Frustration with experience? How sad. Let the American Idol be president so we can have another disastrous eight years.

    January 10, 2008 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  14. Duncan, Richmond, VA

    Why this country is doomed and why most people will never understand the following..

    Still in:
    Clinton, Obama, Edwards, McCain, Thompson, Giuliani, Romney, Huckabee

    Out or with no chance:
    Biden, Dodd, Richardson, Kucinich, Paul, Hunter

    January 10, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  15. Robin, L.A.

    Interesting ticker title aimed at attacking Hillary, but the story is really about Richardson quitting the race. Once again, CNN, you are wrong. People do care about experience. But they also want "fire in the belly." Only Hillary has both.

    Also, why does everyone ignore the fact that Obama works in Washington, too? He's not an "outsider" any more than the other senators.

    January 10, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  16. Tom Dedham, Mass

    Even from the other side of the aisle I see an experienced, honest man who would be good in anyones cabinet, EITHER PARTY.

    We hear what's her name scream about experience and nobody in the MSM had the guts to say to her, "Biden, Richardson and Dodd have more Hillary, so how can you make that claim"?

    How would she have triangulated an answer or simply gave a non-answer to that question?

    WE ALL are in the age of sound bite and photo-op politics, where the MSM decides how you are to think for that given cycle, the smart folks go to different sources and piece it together themselves.

    Thank god Al Gore invented the internet, though some material is false, you get more truthful and investigative reports than the MSM offers nowadays.

    Does anyone else find it ODD that we have seen the three most qualified candidates from the Democratic side GONE ALREADY while the three LEAST experienced remain and one of them has been allowed to flat out LIE that they have the most experience?

    January 10, 2008 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  17. Andres Useche

    Richardson may had had excellent credentials but lacked eloquence and charisma. Citing his extensive experience during debates he sounded often like an ad for himself: I, me, mine, like Hillary sometimes did before learning from the more inclusive WE used by Obama. He shares many of the views of the remarkable Democratic slate this years and a lack of a strong unifying theme to distinguish him from the rest was perhaps to blame for his lackluster performance. He is, among many other things, to be commended for his role in this historically diverse field of democratic contenders.
    But now what? There's only four democrats left standing. Does this mean that Kucinich will no longer be silenced? Voted the winner of ABC's first debate ( according to their own poll), Congressman Kucinich has been excluded from two important debates in which his vital message of dissent has been sorely missed. Without Richardson, Kucinich is the only one left who stands for immediate withdrawal from Iraq. He's also the only one with the guts to pursue impeachment. He's the only one for a NON-for-profit, truly universal, single-payer healthcare system. The only one who supports gay marriage which simply means basic equal rights to all regardless of your sexual orientation. Here's hoping the Democrat's Democrat will be given a chance to speak his mind and the mind of most progressive peace-loving people in the next debates.

    January 10, 2008 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  18. Stella M. Rice, Carbondale, Il 63903

    I'm shocked that Kerry would endorse Obama – To shun Edwards this way is hypocritical and vindictive! I thought at one time that Kerry was an honorable
    man but now I think he's mean spirited. I'm not a fan of Edwards either but one would think that if he ran with Kerry before that Kerry would be loyal to him now!
    I guess I'll just never understand people like Kerry who are blatently mean!!!!

    January 10, 2008 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  19. Jose Card - Independent

    Richardson's real experience hurts, while Hillary's questionable experience sells.
    This says something about Dems in an Independent's opinion.

    Would Governor Richardson consider switching to Independent?

    January 10, 2008 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  20. Bill

    Experience versus Change.

    In every day life we choose experience over experimental (change) every time but when people go out to elect someone to the most important position in our government they vote for change (experimental government). When we pick a doctor we want the most experienced one we can find who has done the surgery many times. When we pick a lawyer we want one that has successfully tried cases many times. We pay more for more experience. When a news channel advertises their correspondents they often boast how experienced they are. The only time we let experience go out the door is in picking a President. When you pick a less experienced doctor you may have major complications or die. When you pick a less experienced lawyer you may end up in jail or paying a lot of money. When you have a less experienced reporter he or she may miss the story or get the facts wrong. When you pick a President with less experience you most likely get not much or something much worse than the one you could have picked.

    There are many examples I could use to illustrate what as a nation and mainly the media is doing. Hoping that the less experienced candidate will not make the wrong decisions or that he will actually get something done.

    It is sad to see the most qualified leave the field. In the end we get what we deserve look at who is President now. At least I will be able to say I told you so the next time around as well.

    January 10, 2008 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  21. Steven Bengtson Sr.

    I think there has been an effort to smear experienced democrats by republican manipulators with the abundance of crap resulting from the Bush administration! Bill has much to offer and has already done more for human beings than any republican. Hope he works with Hillary!

    January 10, 2008 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  22. End The Iraq War NOW

    Kerry is endorsing Obama like Liberman is turning Republican........and people say they can COUNT ON the honesty of politicians.........they're flip-floppers.......

    January 10, 2008 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  23. Matt

    I think Jose Card has hit on something. Richardson's platform was also very progressive. I hate our US electoral system. Everyone who can get on the ballot with so many signatures should start out with equal money, and equal time. none of this "oh let's just shove kucinich off the spotlight cause he's a little elf" or "Richardson just doesn't have the star power" bull crap. Cnn you guys had a whole hour where you talked about media irresponsibility before the NH primaries and then you guys went and acted irresponsibly, right down to bringing on Ralph "corrupt lobbyist" Reed as a political consultant. Mainstream Media is entirely pro-corporate and un-American.

    January 10, 2008 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  24. Ro

    Wow.. CNN is in major censor mode.

    January 10, 2008 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  25. Ithaca

    I cannot believe that the CNN use Bill Richardson's exit as a new platform to attack Hillary's experience. They should go back to elementary school to study their logic again. He lost because he was competing against other highly qualified and popular candidates, not because he has experience. Following their logic, we would conclude that change is also rejected because Ron Paul is losing even though he promises the most radical changes.

    January 10, 2008 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
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