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At a Democratic debate in Philadelphia on Oct. 30, Gov. Bill Richardson tried some global one-upsmanship. "I've got the most international experience here," he said.
That message is a central plank in his campaign. He not only has executive experience running the state of New Mexico and 15 years in Congress, he's got foreign policy experience. (Our in-depth look at the candidates' experience can be found in our story here.)
Indeed, in 1997, President Clinton appointed Richardson ambassador to the United Nations, where he stayed for 1 1/2 years. He has also, on several occasions, gone overseas to negotiate the release of American political prisoners and servicemen in North Korea, Iraq and Cuba.
In 1995, he negotiated with Saddam Hussein for the release of two American hostages. And he negotiated a cease-fire, later breached, among several factions in the Darfur region of Sudan.
This year, Richardson led a delegation to North Korea that included President Bush's main policy adviser on North Korea. Afterward, North Korea said it would shut its main nuclear reactor once it received $25-million frozen in a bank by sanctions. A few deadlines lapsed, but the United States is working with North Korea to remove it from Washington's list of states sponsoring terrorism as American experts prepare to disable the nation's nuclear reactor.
Whether this stage of negotiations is a result of Richardson's skills as a diplomat, or if officials like U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill are more responsible, goes beyond the scope of our question. But this experience definitely gives him some foreign policy cred.
Compare his resume against the records of most of the other Democratic candidates and he definitely has more international experience.
But what about Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware?
He's spent 35 years in the Senate. He's chairman of the powerful Foreign Relations Committee, a post he held following the 9/11 attacks. His proposal to divide Iraq has considerable support from people in both parties.
So it's a stretch for Richardson to claim he's No. 1. We recognize he has lots of foreign policy experience, but given his brief time as U.N. ambassador and Biden's significant experience, we find Richardson's statement to be Half True.
The New York Times, Candidate Has an Eye on Edging up to No. 3, Oct. 11, 2007.
The New York Times, Richardson Officially Enters '08 Democratic Presidential Race, May 22, 2007.
The New York Times, North Korea Set to Carry Out Nuclear Deal, U.S. Envoy Says, April 12, 2007.
Associated Press, U.S. working with North Korea to Remove Pyongyang from list of terror sponsoring states, Nov. 2, 2007.
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