About two weeks ago, I attended the Young Democrats of America’s (YDA) spring conference, held in Omaha, Nebraska. The keynote speaker for the conference was New Mexico Governor and Presidential Candidate Bill Richardson.

The opening speaker mentioned that no Presidential candidate has campaigned in deeply Republican Nebraska since 1968. And who was that candidate in ’68? Robert F. Kennedy.

We started by watching Richardson’s new TV spots that were airing in Iowa, only a few miles away (where every Presidential candidate since 1968 has campaigned). The ads were ingenius – they highlighted the little known fact that its Richardson, not Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden, that is the most experienced of the Presidential candidates. In the ads, Richardson is being “interviewed” for the job of President, with the catch line being “You might be overqualified.”

The problem is, Richardson doesn’t exert experience. Has this guy really negiotiated with Kim Jong Il, Saddam Hussein, Qaddafi, the rulers of the Sudan, been energy secretary, a Congressman, and a successful Governor? Where is that poise that was used to broker a ceasefire in Darfur? There is a bit of a disconnect between Richardson’s past and the man that we see up there.

Richardson acknowledged this. “We’re learning”, he said about campaiging and his low, but rising, poll numbers. But he comes through as someone who wants to do things. He spoke about his first 6 days in office, where, it seemed, he planned to save the world, make America energy independent, and take a day off. Day 1 – end the way in Iraq. Day 2 – solve global warming. He might want to sound a little more realistic, perhaps expand that to his first 6 weeks, not days. But the point is clear, Richardson has a clear plan about what he want to do once he becomes President, and has the record to back it up.

Richardson has pledged to run a clean, positive campaign, and in his 15 minute speech, never mentioned any of his opponenets by name. “I may not be a rockstar”, he said in obvious reference to Barack Obama, the man he helped bring to fame as the chief organizer of the 2004 Democratic Convention where Obama’s keynote speech made him an overnight sensation.

Overall, I found Richardson appealing. If he keeps to his pledge to run a positive campaign, I would like to see him reach the top tier as I believe his presence can only enhance the image of Democrats as being the party that represents America. This is a great field we have in ’08 and Richardson sharing the stage with Obama, John Edwards and Clinton will only strengthen the party.

To learn more about Gov. Bill Richardson, visit his website here.

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