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Richardson Addresses Decision to Withdraw Name as Obama Cabinet Nominee

CQ Transcripts Wire
Monday, January 5, 2009 1:56 PM

(JOINED IN PROGRESS) RICHARDSON: ... this decision was a difficult one, I think it was the right thing to do. I made the decision over the weekend after exploring my options. I had hoped that the CDR investigation would have concluded in December with a clean bill of health for my administration. Since the investigation was not finished in December and, as long as the CDR investigation is ongoing, I made the decision to withdraw as the president-elect's nominee for commerce secretary rather than ask for a delay in my appointment.

I underestimated how long the CDR investigation would take, but I have faith in the criminal justice process, and we must allow it to run its course.

I also don't want to jeopardize the process by commenting on it today.

As you might expect, I'm disappointed in the turn of events. There were a lot of ways in which I thought I could help this country in a time of financial crisis. Sometimes your own dreams and plans must take a back seat to what is best for the nation.

The president-elect said in his statement yesterday that he looks forward to my future service in his administration. I still believe I have a lot to give in public service.

But today I will continue with the challenging job -- the one that I love the most -- of being governor, and preparing a state budget, and working with Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish, and the New Mexico legislature and its citizens to move New Mexico forward.

Now, I will take two or three questions, but, as I said, I will not answer any questions related to the CDR investigation. And in deference to the president-elect, I also don't want to talk about our private conversations.

QUESTION: What was Diane Denish's first reaction when you informed her yesterday?

RICHARDSON: We spoke yesterday morning. I gave her a briefing of what the president-elect was going to say, what I said.

We had been having conversations prior to that about, you know, a potential delay. She was disappointed, but she emphasized that she wanted us to work very closely together, as we always have been. And as I said, I think she's going to make a very fine governor some day.

QUESTION: What made you think that the investigation would be at the point where (OFF-MIKE) was there any proof? Was there any evidence (OFF-MIKE)

RICHARDSON: Well, I underestimated how long the investigation would take place. That's it. And I think I have to respect the criminal justice process.

But, again, as I said in my statement, the investigation has been taking longer, and I have to respect that. What I didn't want is to get into the confirmation hearings with the -- the inquiry still going on.

QUESTION: Governor, how do you know that your administration acted properly? Have you conducted an internal investigation?

RICHARDSON: I'm not going to answer that.

QUESTION: Governor, it's been reported that the transition team pressured you to withdraw your name. Whose idea was it to withdraw?

RICHARDSON: It was -- it was my idea to withdraw. I withdrew because I felt I didn't want a possible inquiry going on to delay the enormous progress we need to rebuild this economy.

Now, let -- let me just say something else. You know, yesterday I was hurting over this decision. I lost a cabinet appointment.

But I think we have to focus on what people are losing in this country. You know, the American people are -- people in New Mexico are losing jobs. They're losing their savings. They're losing their homes. That's -- that's the real tragedy. You know, mine is minor compared to that.

And I think what we need to do is move ahead with the agenda for New Mexico. And I'm fully engaged in getting my budget priorities and my legislative package. I'm meeting with the cabinet tomorrow. We're going to have some two good announcements about continuing jobs in New Mexico on Wednesday.

And so I am moving forward aggressively in -- in what is going to be my focus from now on, governor of New Mexico.

STAFF: We're going to take one -- one last question.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Governor, do you have a lawyer?

RICHARDSON: I am not getting into any more questions.

QUESTION: Governor, do you plan on finishing your term as governor? Are you going to leave open the possibility of...

RICHARDSON: Thank you, guys. Sorry about yesterday, but now you can -- now we can get back to the legislature. And my focus is going to be New Mexico. And thank you for being here today.

END

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