Democrat Bill Richardson today intends to tap his experience as a former U.S. secretary of energy to court Arizona voters concerned about the country’s energy and environmental policies.
Like many presidential candidates, the New Mexico governor has invested his campaign efforts into the key states of Iowa and New Hampshire, and now is stepping up efforts to visit other states.
For Richardson, part of his challenge is building a reputation that can compete with that of the public’s top Democratic favorites: U.S. Sens. Barack Obama of Illinois and Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, and former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina.
Compared to them, polls show, the former diplomat is little known among potential voters.
Richardson’s stop today in Phoenix at the Burton Barr Library comes a day after he participated in a Democratic debate in New Hampshire, where candidates clashed over various issues, from the war in Iraq and national security to education.
Rep. Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix, is endorsing Richardson’s presidential bid and said his experience in the Clinton administration gives him an edge over most candidates in energy policy.
Also, Campbell said, Richardson will address other policy issues related to energy.
“You’re talking about economic viability, national security, environmental issues ... energy (policy) encompasses everything,” Campbell said.
Richardson’s energy plan would make America a “Clean Energy Nation, according to a campaign news release.
Richardson is calling for increased production and reliance on renewable energy sources, more fuel-efficient cars and efforts to reduce greenhouse gases.
Richardson is very familiar with the oil industry, having served on Valero Energy Corp.’s board of directors from 2001 until 2002 after he served as energy secretary from 1998 to 2000.
Last week, he tried to distance himself from the oil trade, selling his stock in Valero, a San Antonio, Texas company that is the country’s largest independent oil refiner.
Richardson explained he made the move because he was being questioned about his industry ties.
Recently, Richardson has taken on the issue of national security and immigration.
In a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, he and fellow Democrat, Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, chided the department for contracting with Dyn-Corp International, a recruiter offering bonuses to lure Border Patrol officers into working in Iraq.
The two governors claim this move could have “serious safety implications for U.S. citizens” because it draws away officers who monitor and protect the country’s border with Mexico.
Richardson is to appear at the Phoenix library at 1221 N. Central Ave. at 3:30 p.m. today
Richardson will meet with reporters at 3 p.m.