Richardson says send in Cheney

Early this afternoon at a VFW Post in Des Moines, New Mexico Governor/Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson handed an Iowa woman the Purple Heart her uncle earned in the Korean War.  Story here

Afterwards during Q&A with reporters, Richardson expanded on his view that Vice President Dick Cheney should be dispatched to Pakistan to urge Parkistani President Pervez Musharraf to hold elections, and that U.S. aid to the country should be withheld if Musharraf doesn’t end Marshall Law and hold legitimate voting. 

Henderson:  "Why did you say Cheney should go to Pakistan?  Do you have no confidence in the Secretary of State?"

Richardson:  "I felt, no, I have confidence in Secretary Rice.  I believe that it would demonstrate — sending the vice president who is Musharraf’s buddy that we consider this recent departure from democracy a very serious breach and I would tell President Musharraf that we’re going to cut off the $10 billion in aid unless he returns to democracy and unless he seriously goes after the safe havens in Al Qaida and on his border."

AP’s Ron Fournier:  "Would you be willing to back that up and pull back the leverage, the money?"

Richardson:  "I would link the money — I would link the $10 billion to Musharraf having elections, restoring democratic institutions but also a clear message that he has to go after bin Laden, al Qaida and the safe havens and he isn’t doing that.  His record there has been mixed."

Fournier:  "Is the (Bush) Administration doing enough right now?"

Richardson:  "No, the administration is not doing enough.  The administration is basically, uh, have a weak and ineffectual response.  When the Secretary of State says that she’s disappointed and the Secretary of Defense says that we urge the Musharraf regime to restore democracy, that’s a policy without teeth.  It should be conditioned on our support, our assistance support.  The administration’s response has been weak and ineffectual and now we have a third crisis looming in American security.  We’ve got the war in Iraq.  We’ve got the impending crisis with Iran and we have the possibility of a failed nation-state in Pakistan.  You know, Pakistan has nuclear weapons and we’ve given them $10 billion of assistance.  They’re our main front in the war against terorism and they’re falling apart and this is going to have serious implications for us."

Two other candidates — John McCain and Joe Biden — discussed this subject on Sunday in separate stops in Iowa.  Here is the Radio Iowa story with their comments.

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About O.Kay Henderson

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