Richardson Criticizes Rivals Over Iraq

Democratic presidential hopeful Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico speaks at the Service Employees International Union Political Action Conference in Washington, Monday, Sept. 17, 2007. AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

This story was written by CBS News' Joy Lin.


Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson took aim at a rival yesterday, uttering a name he rarely mentions on the campaign trail.

"John Edwards would change the mission," said Richardson in a press release. "I will end the war."

Today, Richardson took on more of his Democratic opponents in what his campaign called a major speech on Iraq and the military.

Richardson began the speech by citing the number Americans and Iraqis who have lost their lives. In an effort to distinguish himself from the pack, Richardson said he's tired of "waiting and seeing" if there will be political progress.

"Senator Clinton has reportedly said that she might well have troops still in Iraq at the end of a second term -- 9 years from now," said Richardson. "Senator Obama and John Edwards are unwilling to commit to removing all of the troops by the end of their first term -- that's 5 years from now. I am opposed to 5 years or 9 years or any more years of our troops dying. My colleagues are wrong."

"That's changing the mission, not ending the war," said Richardson.

Stating that he had expected "much more" from his Democratic opponents on the war, Richardson named Clinton five times and coupled Obama and Edwards' names three times in his speech.

During the question and answer session that followed, a student pointed out how harshly Richardson was criticizing his opponents and asked whether he would consider being vice president to any of them, which drew laughter from the crowd. Richardson responded by saying he was simply "pointing out policy differences" and that he would win the nomination.

In his speech, Richardson emphasized that both U.S. troops and private security forces would leave Iraq under his plan. "As president, I will no longer privatize and outsource American security," he said.

Richardson also offered a wider security outlook, advocating a "new realism" approach to diplomacy, energy independence, and the U.S. military.

He said the war in Iraq has heralded a new century in which conflict will be marked by "three-block war" in which the "lines between combat, stability, and humanitarian operations blur."

Richardson added that as president he would stop "wasting billions of dollars on Cold War weapons systems" and reorder budget priorities for defense, including $57 billion in specific cuts to "unnecessary Pentagon spending."

Richardson also said that military effectiveness will not require new nuclear weapons, but will require more troops in uniform. "We need to invest less in planes and more in people," he said.

Richardson also said Thursday that he would not abandon his presidential run to seek the Senate seat being vacated by Republican Sen. Pete Domenici in his home state of New Mexico. "I am not running for the Senate," he told the Associated Press. "I'm running for president."

By Joy Lin
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