As he consistently stressed throughout his campaign, Bill Richardson is no newcomer to public office. He spent fourteen years as a House representative from New Mexico, followed by stints as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and energy secretary under President Clinton. He was elected as New Mexico governor in 2002. During his presidential campaign, Richardson primarily highlighted his diplomatic experience, which includes negotiation with North Korea, Sudan, and Cuban President Fidel Castro, among others. Aside from his extensive resume, Richardson’s campaign is noteworthy in that he would be the first Mexican-American president of the United States. Born to a Mexican mother and American father, Richardson was raised in Mexico City until high school. This background, combined with his large immigrant constituency in New Mexico, has placed Richardson in a unique position in the immigration debate. He has called for broad immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, but has also been a voice for increased law enforcement and surveillance on the border. He deployed the National Guard to the Mexico/New Mexico border in 2006 to curb the flow of illegal immigrants into the United States. Richardson was also a decidedly anti-war candidate and has called for a complete troop withdrawal from Iraq.
Richardson withdrew from the presidential race on January 10, 2008 after poor showings in the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primaries. In March 2008, Richardson endorsed Barack Obama. In December 2008, Richardson became President-elect Obama's nominee for secretary of commerce. He withdrew his nomination for that position in January 2009.