CQ Transcripts Wire
Thursday, January 10, 2008 3:55 PM
NEW MEXICO GOV. BILL RICHARDSON: Thank you very much, Barbara, and Tom Udall.
Thank you for all coming here today.
I want to begin today by speaking directly to those who've supported my campaign for president from the very beginning, those that joined us along the way, those who were with us at the end, and most importantly, the people of New Mexico.
It is with great pride, understanding and acceptance that I am ending my campaign for president of the United States.
It was my hope that you would first hear it from me directly and not from a news organization. But, unfortunately, as with too many things in our world today, it's the ending of something that garners the most intense interest and speculation.
You know, it's been an exhilarating and humbling year, an experience I will treasure and I will never forget. The voters of this country, and particularly of the early primary states, where I focused my campaign, tested me in ways that I've never been tested. We had 200 debates. Actually, it was only 24, but it felt like 200.
And there I believe that we made our case to the people. We made our case for change, but guided by an experienced hand. We made our case for a foreign policy with principles and realism.
Of rebuilding alliances through diplomacy and unflagging support for democracy.
We made our case for rebuilding our country with a laser-like focus on economic growth, quality jobs, like we've done here in New Mexico, investing in education, science, math and the arts, and providing universal health care.
RICHARDSON: And we made our case for bringing people together, as I've done for my entire life -- Democrats, independents, Republicans, citizens, community groups -- to break the gridlock in Washington and get things done for the American people.
I knew from the beginning that this would be an upward climb. When I entered the campaign, it was clear that we as Democrats had the most talented field of my entire lifetime running to change the direction of our country. And in the end, one of them will.
And despite overwhelming financial and political odds, I am proud of the campaign we waged...
... and the influence, and, most importantly the influence we had on the issues that matter the most to the future of this country.
A year ago, we were the only campaign calling for the removal of all our troops within a year's time from Iraq. We were the only campaign calling for a complete reform of education, including the scrapping of No Child Left Behind.
And we were the campaign that was the most aggressive in clean energy and the most ambitious standards reducing global warming.
Now, all the remaining candidates have come to our point of view.
And I am confident -- and I am confident that the next president of the United States will implement much of what we've been urging for the last 12 months, and our nation -- and our world -- will be better for it.
RICHARDSON: You know, this has been a remarkable process. I've learned that I don't have all the answers and that not every solution...
... can be found inside the Beltway.
I've been grilled in over a thousand forums and town meetings, pressed on my views, my accomplishments, my ideas and policy prescriptions for this great country.
From the farm towns of Iowa to the mountain towns of New Hampshire, from the South Carolina shore to the glittering cities of Nevada, I travel hundreds and thousands of miles, face tens of thousands of citizens.
They shared their hopes, their dreams, their problems and questions with me. And boy, there were some very tough questions. I gave them the best I had. And I gave this race the best I had.
I'm noticing who's not standing up.
We raised over $22 million, 68,000 donors; we built a multi-state organization of hundreds of thousands of staff and volunteers; we had organized steering committees in 36 states; we're on the ballot in 42 states; and we worked harder than anyone.
Boy, did we work harder than anyone. And we did our best.
And that is all we can do. And that's all we can expect from each other.
You know, running for president brings out the best in everyone who graces the stage. And I've learned a lot from the other candidates running.
RICHARDSON: They have all brought great talents and abilities to the campaign.
Senator Biden, his passion and intellect are remarkable.
Senator Dodd is the epitome of selfless dedication to public service in the Democratic Party.
Senator Edwards is a singular voice for the most downtrodden and forgotten among us.
Senator Obama is a bright light of hope and optimism at a time of great national unease, yet he is also grounded in thoughtful wisdom beyond his years.
Senator Clinton's poise in the face of adversity is matched only by her lifetime of achievement and deep understanding of the challenges we face.
Representative Kucinich is a man of great decency and dedication who will faithfully soldier on, no matter how great the odds.
And all of us in the Democratic Party owe Senator Mike Gravel our appreciation for his brave leadership during the national turmoil of Vietnam.
I am honored to have shared the stage with each of those Democrats. And I'm enormously grateful to all of my supporters who, despite so many other good candidates, went our way.
Now that my time in this national campaign has come to an end, I would urge those who supported my candidacy to take a long and thoughtful look at the remaining Democrats. They're all strong contenders who each in their own way would bring desperately needed change to our country.
All I ask is that you make your own independent choice, with the same care and dedication to this country that you honored me during this campaign.
At this time I will not endorse any candidate. And all I ask of the candidates is that they do not resort to personal attacks to win the nomination.
RICHARDSON: Thank you.
Our country and our party deserve better than that.
I've said, from the beginning, that we must avoid attacking each other. And I continue to believe that, to this day.
The campaign -- this campaign is not about those of us who ran or are still running. It's about the American people. Disagree on policy, but respect the personal privacy and personal integrity of the others running.
To do otherwise could result in another four to eight years of more of the same. And that would be the biggest tragedy of all.
Now, I'm returning to a job that I love...
... serving a state...
... serving a state that I cherish and doing the work of the people I was elected to serve.
And I've always said, I'm the luckiest man I know. I married my high school sweetheart.
I live in a place called "The Land of Enchantment (ph)."
I have the best job in the world. And I just got to run for president of the United States.
And, you know, it doesn't get any better than that.
So, the time has come to end my quest and come home, to tackle the challenges before us in New Mexico. Our legislature starts next week. And I intend to put my full efforts behind our number one priority: extending health insurance to every New Mexican by the end of my term.
RICHARDSON: So to all New Mexico legislator and citizens who participate in the public process, I have a message: I am back.
I will continue my international missions to advance the cause of human rights and democracy.
I will enjoy riding my horse again.
And I will work hard to make Tom Udall the next U.S. senator from New Mexico.
I'd like to finish this afternoon with the most important part; saying an appropriate thank you to all of you who supported this campaign.
There's so many of you, thousands of supporters, donors who made my dream your dreams and supported our campaign with your extraordinary efforts.
Let me just name a few: Barbara Richards; Ed Romero, finance chair...
Dave Conerino (ph), campaign manager...
... Amanda Cooper, deputy campaign manager.
... Mike Stratton, my senior political adviser.
... and all the hundreds of New Mexico Roadrunners who gave their time, their hard work to the campaign.
They went to Iowa. They went to New Hampshire. And they persevered. And I won't forget it.
Also, to my hard-working campaign staff, thank you.
I am optimistic. I am positive about this country and our ability to tackle the great challenges ahead.
The last year, I've learned so much.
RICHARDSON: But I've learned, most of all, that the people of this country are a sincere and caring people. They're also thoughtful and deadly serious about the choice before them as they consider these candidates.
So, it's with an optimistic spirit that I withdraw my candidacy for president today.
I believe in the American people and their wisdom to make the right choice in the weeks and months ahead.
So, to all of you, gracias. May God bless New Mexico and God bless the United States of America.