October 7th, 2007
04:58 PM ET
15 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. Phil, Palm Harbor FL

    I used to subscribe to Biden's proposal about splitting Iraq into 3 regions, when he first proposed it over 4 years ago. What took Richardson's advisors so long to decide on this is beyond me.

    However, upon more analyzing, I found that this plan isn't going to work. If you split it up into 3 regions, the oil will not be equally distributed... all this plan will accomplish is the allowance of more pressure to build, as a direct result of the misappropriation of certain groups on land that is richer in oil, thus creating an argument that will require our ongoing presence in the region.

    Withdrawal is the only option. We are there ILLEGEALY. Hell if the government can get away with an illegal occupation according to international law, then maybe I should be writing the UN to get my DUI expunged.

    October 9, 2007 05:31 am at 5:31 am |
  2. A New Mexican, Albuquerque, New Mexico

    Richardson says he'll get us out in 6 months even though every single thoughtful, experienced, bi-partisan military man and woman on the planet says it can't be done safely in that time frame. But no, you'll believe a guy who has represented New Mexico in the Congress and as Governor for over 25 years – and the state ranks lowest 3 in education, top five in drop outs, lowest 5 in pre capita income, top five in crime, top 5 in gang members per capita. Compare the state contrator list with Bill's contributor list and you'll see why he's rasied a few bucks. This is an old style Chicago boss if ever there was one. Yep – Old Bill has LOT'S of experience but it's always been about HIM getting a better job while the people of New Mexico languish in poverty and minimum wage jobs. What a joke.

    October 9, 2007 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  3. CG, Princeton NJ

    I agree that Biden's plan is the right plan for us to redeploy our troops (yes, he calls for a withdrawal of troops, but unlike Richardson, in a REALISTIC way) without leaving chaos behind. To those that have asked about oil revenues, Biden's plan actually takes that into account and calls for sharing of oil revenues.

    See http://www.planforiraq.com . It has the complete details of the Biden/Gelb plan and you will also note there is a quote from Bill Richardson, sounding quite supportive of Biden's plan....hmmm

    Joe Biden is the right candidate at the right time for this country.

    October 9, 2007 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  4. Olivia, Sprinfield, IL

    "Don't forget about Dr. Ron Paul. The only one (besides Kucinich, i think) to vote against the Iraq war IN THE FIRST PLACE."

    Well, Biden tried desperately to pass the Biden-Lugar proposal, which would have been an alternative to Bush's proposed use of military force. It would have greatly limited the president's ability to deal militarily with Iraq without evidence of WMD and UN approval; it would have prevented the "nation building" we now see.

    As you may remember, republicans were in the vast majority in the House at the time. You couldn't pass anything without getting at least some of them on board, and Biden's plan tried to do that by offering a viable compromise. The man is a realist. Kucinich is not.

    October 9, 2007 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  5. Michael New York

    Joe Biden is the only candidate who will commit U.S. Forces to Darfur. Sudan was Bin Ladne's base in the 1990's and has more to do with Islamic Fundalmentalism than Iraq ever did. Also, women are keep in Rape camps, infants are raped, arms cut off, clitoris removal is practiced. If you don't support stopping that, then you have no heart or conscience. Biden is the next FDR/Woodrow Wilson type leader.

    October 9, 2007 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  6. John, Ozone Park, NY

    I am a Democrat who served in Iraq-and I am against the war. However, those who favor a precipitous withdrawal are delusional. Since 1968, our country has elected two Democratic presidents, the first being Jimmy Carter who beat an unelected incumbent after the Watergate scandal and Bill Clinton who ran on a middle class tax cut and welfare reform.

    My point: The far left has always been the reason that we lose so many elections and, considering the geopolitical turmoil in the Middle East and nuclear proliferation, will be the reason we lose many more. The fact is that we are there in Iraq regardless if it was one of the worst military blunders in history. An "invasion in reverse" or hasty withdrawal--if facilitated by the Democratic Party--will ensure the party's demise. The reason: Because we'll be back there within a year when the whole region goes up in flames due to individuals in this country who have no concept of international politics--only their shortsighted political agenda.

    October 17, 2007 02:11 am at 2:11 am |
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