Bill Richardson—Advocate for Global Peace—Dies at 75

  • September 2, 2023

by Karen Feld

Bill Richardson—Advocate for Global Peace—Dies at 75

Bill Richardson—advocate For Global Peace—dies At 75
Bill Richardson—Advocate for Global Peace—Dies at 75

A confident New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson —who served in Congress, the Cabinet, and later as UN Ambassador— at the time chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, told me at a 2005 White House State Dinner: “This is the best job in the world.” That’s the way he always viewed his current position. He was passionate about what he believed in. He died on Sept. 1, at his summer home on the Cape in Chatham, Mass.

That dinner was hosted by President George W. Bush for the nation’s governors who turned their back on the Academy Awards the same evening. Instead of Oscars and $30,000 gift bags, the governors set their sights on other statuettes to take home, as evidenced by lobbying for health care dollars. But for Richardson, who later founded the Richardson Center for Global Engagement, it was all policy, no bling.

Respected by politicians on both sides of the aisle for his ability to negotiate and get along with those with differing opinions, Energy Secretary Bill Richardson, was the designated absentee by President Clinton at the State of the Union address in 2000. He hid in a then secret location with full Secret Service protection during the time the President and Vice President were in the Capitol. In the unlikely event of disaster in the U.S. Capitol, one Cabinet Secretary needs to survive to run the country. And if you’re wondering why President Clinton praised Al Gore so favorably that evening, it likely had something to do with the fact that Gore campaign advisor Bob Shrum was a key speechwriter. And Richardson was considered as a Gore running mate for the White House. President Clinton hit a home run that evening with baseball fans everywhere with his invitation to Hank Aaron who sat next to The First Lady.

I got to know Richardson during my many decades covering Capitol Hill — he served as a Democrat in Congress for 14 years from 1982-96 — and later while covering the White House. In December 1999, I wrote: “The White House has back-up generators, but another hot ticket gathering in DC will be at the Potomac Electric Power Company’s secret command center. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson selected the location to ensure a smooth transition during Y2K. Watch him closely since he’s a leading contender for the #2 spot on the Democratic ticket next year.”

Democrat insiders in Spring 2000 whispered that African American activists were unhappy that Al Gore seriously considered selecting Energy Secretary Bill Richardson as his running-mate. He needed the Hispanic vote, but the Blacks wondered why they may be passed over for this possible historic first – a person-of-color sharing the presidential ticket of a major political party.

He threw his hat in the ring for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008 but then endorsed Barack Obama, who nominated him for Commerce Secretary. Richardson withdrew his name because of an investigation over improper business dealings that was dropped.

Today, it’s clear that Richardson’s legacy is his effort in bringing American hostages back to US soil. He fought for those wrongly detained. The key to his success —his ability to form trusted relationships and communicate with everyone regardless of political party or persuasion. We need more politicians like that today.

Back to Articles