January 10th, 2008
05:01 PM ET
10 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. darrell

    in 1992 Clinton responded to Bush “‘The same old experience is irrelevant.

    It worked then

    Change is needed

    January 11, 2008 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  2. darrell

    A General on the battlefield who refuses to change direction, benefits Who?

    Same result

    The experienced Candidates have enough time in office to bring about meaningful change.

    One reason it did not happen. They refused to work with both Parties.

    Turn the page,

    In the past 20 years. Politics = Attacks = nothing done.

    Or done to benefit the few on top or Corp. welfare

    Time for a Change to make the dream a reality for all. America can be a model to other countries. What people can do united.

    January 11, 2008 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  3. David, Gilbert Arizona

    Wow. I literally laughed out loud when I read some of these posts. People are actually reading this article and calling it an attack on Hillary? Uhmm...hello?? Hillary isn't mentioned anywhere in the article. Richardson was talking about himself and his frustration with having to drop out of the race.

    *News Flash* for you Hillary fans. I know this will come as a shell shock for you but not everything is about Hillary. Get over it.

    January 11, 2008 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  4. Chris, Middletown, CT

    Or....maybe....just maybe....nobody liked the rants of an ineffective left winger??? I love the question the NH news anchor asked him about "having the same discussion with him 20 years ago when he was energy secretary" (about getting away from foreign oil) – and since he was ineffective then...why would he be any better now...(psst....he wouldn't...and the country doesn't want higher taxes to pay for sub par health insurance....maybe if we could get scumbags like Edwards to stop suing the insurance companies on a daily basis....that might help)

    What happened to the party of JFK..."ask not what your country can do for you...ask what you can do for your country"?? Its all the new Democrats are asking....what can you do for me (with those evil rich persons money of course)

    January 11, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  5. Mike, Chicago IL

    The problem with "experience" is that the same old bi-partisan politics that have been the norm in Washington for the past couple of decades, is what we want to see changed.

    Hillary is the worst candidate of all in this regard. We've already seen how she operates in Washington. We know how she is viewed in Washington and across the country. We have a pretty good idea of how she would work as president. She is the great divider.

    We need a president that will be a uniter.

    January 11, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  6. roger, conway sc

    Experience has nothing to do Richardson not becoming the nominee....some individuals do not attract the voters as well as others, most people admire Richardson for his service but do not feel he would be a good president & it is no big deal nothing personal.

    January 11, 2008 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  7. jp/michigan

    When applying for a job one is often asked and need some experience to put oneself in a better hiring position. It amazes me that applying ( through debates and interviews) presidental hopeful aren't questioned enough or given concederation for their years of experience. Are canidated promise and believe this country needs change badly , so why aren't we questioning them on what experience do they have that shows the American people they are capable to bring about change.

    January 11, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  8. Anne

    Bill, I don't think a Mexican American could win the presidential primary any more than an African American can win.

    Maybe next time. At least I hope so.

    January 11, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  9. hughvic

    Of course a Mexican American could win the nomination, and the election. But not Bill Richardson. A very convivial man - as easy to abide as my favorite neighbor - but for President, no.

    He was a passable member of the House and has been a good governor, but his "experience" under Clinton was experience in failure. He did far more harm than good, and for years everything he touched seemed to turn to scandal, not of scandalous malfeasance, exactly, but of scandalous incompetence. The man's criminally lazy, and I sure hope that comes from his privileged Anglo side because otherwise it would play into the ridiculous stereotype of the lazy Mexican. Consider his hideous tenure as Secretary of Energy. He not only gave away the keys to the Chinese, he almost let Los Alamos National Laboratory burn down. Twice. He would be a nightmarish President.

    I think it's important to keep taking the temperature of the country's readiness for a President who's a member of any of the "suspect classes" contemplated in Equal Protection law, just so long as we are among those ready to elect a Helen Keller or a Shirley Chisolm or an Andres Pico or Eli Parker if that's the best person for the job at the time.

    January 11, 2008 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  10. Jose Card - Independent

    "There is no viability in an independent candidacy. NONE." – Amused, Las Vegas.

    We put more than a man on the moon.
    I think we can put an Independent president into the White House, too.
    In fact, an Independent will be a great uniter for all parties.
    Let's not forget the people power.

    "Matt and Jose Card: Did either one of you vote for Richardson?" – Seam, Philly, Pa.

    No, I don't live in Iowa nor New Hampshire. Truth isn't personal. It's just truth.

    You are very right. We don't verify the resumes of these presidential candidates, especially Hillary's 35 years of experience. Bill needs to release the documents from his administration to show her claim. But he won't till after 2012, her next election.

    January 11, 2008 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  11. hughvic

    Prayu made the point, near the top of this string, that Lincoln didn't have a lot of experience either. It seems too much to ask that we have another Lincoln someday, but Prayu's use of him as a comparison isn't antiquarian.

    Lincoln was a third party candidate, and he helped bury the Whig Party, whence he'd come. He split the vote and forced a near three-way tie between the venerable Democratic Party, the moribund Whigs and the upstart Republicans, who then represented futuristic change and industrial "progress". Lincoln, then, won by the smallest plurality of any winning Presidential candidate, just 38.8% of the vote. He was disliked by most of the country when he came in, grudgingly respected when he was reelected, and hated by half the country when his life ended. There were very few people, mostly his old law colleagues, his cabinet and general staff, who saw his greatness.

    That kind of seeing was to be hindsight. A myth promptly formed around him, partly to conceal the shame of the pure fact that the greatest soul this country ever produced happened into the presidency and even into reelection almost by accident. The "Father Abraham" myth was meant as a talismanic protection of the witless mid-century electorate from posterity's indictment of their sheer emptiness as voters, the same voters who blundered again and again until a terrible war came.

    How then is our foresight now? I don't ask this sarcastically, to cast aspersions at anyone. I ask it straight out: how's our foresight doing? 'Cause we need it just now.

    January 13, 2008 03:20 am at 3:20 am |
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