With a last push going into this week’s Iowa caucus, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson gave a spirited speech Sunday to 400 supporters in Des Moines.
Des Moines schools’ superintendent, Nancy Sebring, introduced the governor and endorsed him as a candidate with a strong education plan.
Richardson led the crowd in some cheers for new leadership and cited a NBC/McClatchy survey that has him in fourth place in Iowa with 12 percent of the vote, saying he is “within striking distance.”
Actor Martin Sheen was supposed to attend the rally but was unable to travel after becoming ill. He released a statement expressing his regrets and his support.
“At this critical time in our nation’s history, Bill Richardson is the one person with the experience and vision to rebuild our reputation and alliances abroad and improve the lives of all Americans here at home.”
Richardson also was endorsed this week by a New Hampshire paper, the Conway Daily Sun.
“Richardson has heavyweight credentials for a heavyweight job; Obama, Edwards and Clinton, by comparison, have barely found their way into the ring,” the paper said in its endorsement.
Last week Richardson drew on his foreign policy background as a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, calling for the resignation of Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf following the assassination of opposition party leader Benazir Bhutto.
He appeared on MSNBC to discuss his position.
Richardson also criticized President Bush’s handling of the situation in Pakistan during a speech in Iowa on Saturday.
“President Bush faced a choice with Pakistan,” Richardson said, reported the Washington Post. “He needed to choose whether to support the dictator or the Pakistani people. He chose the dictator. Repeatedly. And by doing so, he has let down both the American and the Pakistani people.”
Richardson is campaigning in Iowa today and will host the Richardson for President New Year’s Eve Party tonight.