Bill Richardson is the Governor of New Mexico and former candidate for the 2008 Democratic nomination. Of Hispanic descent, Richardson was born in Pasadena, California, but spent most of his childhood in Mexico City. Richardson graduated from Tufts University, from which he also received a Masters in International Affairs. In 1982, Richardson was elected to the United States House of Representatives. During his time in the House, Richardson focused on foreign affairs as well as on issues of importance to the Native American community. In 1997, Bill Clinton appointed Richardson United States Ambassador to the United Nations; Richardson left that post in 1998 to become Secretary of Energy. Richardson is known for his "shuttle diplomacy" and has been nominated five times for the Nobel Peace Prize. Richardson was first elected the Governor of New Mexico in 2003; he was reelected in 2007 in a landslide, earning 69% of the vote. Richardson is the author of two recent books: the campaign autobiography Between Worlds: The Making of an American Life, and Leading by Example: How We Can Inspire an Energy and Security Revolution.
Question: Is the American govenment too secretive?
Yeah I do agree with that. I believe the government should be open. I think the worst example was when the Vice President said he wasn’t gonna submit to the scrutiny of Congress when they asked him for documents. And then outrageously he said that he was not gonna provide them ‘cause he wasn’t a member of the Executive branch. And I said to myself, “Well what is he, a farmer?” My point is when it comes to national security; when it comes to just simple information . . . I’ll give you an example. I got into a little trouble when I said at one of the debates that on UFOs, aliens, I don’t believe in them. But one of the problems that have been compounded about propagating this myth that aliens exist in Roswell, New Mexico is ‘cause the government has not provided full disclosure of incidents that happened years ago about possible landings in Roswell, New Mexico. And if they just released all the information, they wouldn’t have had this problem. Yeah I do believe in general that government is very secretive. It’s very bureaucratic. In many cases it turns people off. It’s very impersonal.
What I would do is I’d submit to unfettered town meetings with the American people. I’d have office hours where ordinary people would come to see me, as long as it was five minutes and they didn’t carry a weapon. (Chuckles) Actually I’ve done that as a governor. I would make the White House more part of the American family – make it more accessible. Obviously a President has to worry about security, but I would spend a night in people’s homes just trying to explain that government can be on the side of the American people. One of our big problems has been that the American people think that government simply is not on their side; that government is there to block progress; that government is there to make things more difficult, more bureaucratic. A lot of it is the tone of leadership that a President would bring.
Recorded on: 11/20/07