By KATE NASH
Scripps Howard News Service
November 18, 2005
At just the right moment, Tom Hoover offered what might be golden words to Richardson: "You'll have to do us all a favor and get a seat in the White House in 2008."
The governor smiled, laughed, mumbled something and reached for the next hard-cover copy of "Between Worlds: The Making of an American Life."
That interaction at a bookstore near the state Capitol was classic Richardson - at least when it comes to his intentions for the next two years.
In public, the governor has revealed little beyond the fact that he wants to seek re-election in 2006. In private? Hmmm . . .
The Hoovers said they didn't catch the words the governor uttered, but evidence is mounting that Richardson, a first-term Democratic governor, former congressman, former U.N. ambassador and former Energy secretary, wants to reign over more than New Mexico.
"Anybody who wants to run for office seems to write a book," said state GOP Chairman Allen Weh. "There's a strong corollary, and it's bipartisan."
After Richardson's recent trip to the nation's capitol, Washington Post columnist Al Kamen wrote about a party the governor attended in Georgetown.
According to Kamen, one guest quoted Richardson as saying, "I'm running, and you can tell people that." Two others heard Richardson say, "I'm going in 2008."
Back on his home turf, Richardson said the story "wasn't accurate."
"These reports come out all the time, that I said I'm going to do it. You know my answer: I'm going to run for re-election. I've got a lot to do as governor of New Mexico and then we'll see."
The rumors are persistent, among bloggers, critics and pundits. Are every one of those reports wrong?
"If they are saying that I have undecidedly, unequivocally said I'm running, they are wrong," said Richardson, who turned 58 Tuesday.
In his book, Richardson describes a conversation he had with Sen. John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat and failed 2004 presidential candidate.
"Near the end of our conversation, Kerry threw me an unexpected curve: 'Do you want to be president?' 'Maybe someday,' I said."
Then there's the national media interviews he's given lately, the out-of-state blogs that are abuzz for his candidacy, and products like the "Bill Richardson for President" bumper stickers available online.
He's got a TV ad, too. But that's for governor - a race for which he won't officially announce until early next year. The general election is next November.
As it gets closer to 2008, Weh said, New Mexicans should get used to being led by the state's lieutenant governor, who is in charge of the state when Richardson is gone.
"Any elected official who has ambitions is going to spend time campaigning," he said. "We're going to see a lot of Diane Denish."
Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service.
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