Richardon to run ads in Iowa

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson chatted with Radio Iowa (me) this morning, and I asked him why he was running adverts in Iowa at this stage.  His answer on that, and a few other topics, after the jump:

Why so early?

Richardson:  "I need to get known in Iowa.  I’m running a grassroots campaign, an unusual campaign, my qualifications, my background are there in the grassroots, but I need Iowans.  This is a big state.  Traveling it, just my last few appearances realize that we’re talking about 4 million people scattered around in very distinct rural areas so I want to get out early.  I want Iowans to know who I am.  I want ’em to know about my background.  This is an ad that deals with my jobs as Energy Secretary, as UN Ambassador, as congressman — what I’ve done, my record."

Yesterday you gave a speech in which you focused on foreign policy regarding Africa and what you would do if elected president.  Your party has been struggling with a way to connect with Evangelical Christians, many of whom do mission work, many of whom have concern about that continent.  Do you think this is one way in which you as a candidate might be able to connect with that voting bloc?

Richardson:  "Yes.  There’s a large evangelical voting block.  There’s also an African American constituency and there’s also here in Iowa a lot of work has been done in agriculture and farming with aid programs in Latin American and Asia and Africa and so I simply also wanted to say that our foreign policy shouldn’t just be guided by strategic issues and Iraq and Europe, that we should care about Africa, that we should care about a continent that has a huge poverty factors, that has AIDS rampant, the has refugee problems, that has killings in Darfur, so I was signaling that America’s strategic interests are not just based on military means, but should also be based on humanitarian issues and issues of poverty and issues relating to how ordinary people can lift up their lives.  That’s why as president I would emphasize continents and regions like Africa that have been suffering and need assistance, that need partnerships with the United States."

Would such humanitarian foreign policy initiatives help repair the US image abroad which you in previous visits have discussed as being tarnished?

Richardson:  "Well, my emphasis would be on human needs.  Too often aid programs go to build roads and bridges and infrastructure.  I would emphasize program in Africa and the world that would emphasize nutrition, education, renewable energy technology.  I think there’s a great potential for ethanol, biofuels, just as there is in the United States and Brazil.  I believe there are several nations in Africa that would be fertile for this kind of partnership.  In addition, I believe it’s critically important tha we forgive the debts that many of these African countries can’t possibly sustain the debt that many institutions like the IMF, the World Bank seem to want to impose on ’em, so it’s a variety of levers.  You know, I notice that the winner of the Nobel Prize, Mohammad Unis, he was giving loans to women — $17 per loan in places like Bangladesh to develop new businesses.  With those $17 they were able to hire other women, then they produced clothing and they produced dresses and enterprising, entrepreneurship is something else that would be part of my programs for Africa."

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.