Former President Bill Clinton’s appearance Wednesday at the Democratic National Convention where Latinos have had a historic role raised the question of just what kind of record he has had with Hispanics.
Clinton set a record for the most Hispanic appointees of any administration, including three Cabinet members – the most for any presidency in history.
But if you ask one of those Cabinet members — former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, the elder statesman among Hispanic Democrats – Bill Clinton’s record is zilch, at least on a personal basis.
Richardson, who is at the convention, told ABC News Wednesday that he continues to feud with Clinton for endorsing Hillary Clinton after he dropped out of the 2008 presidential race.
“The feud is ongoing and probably permanent,” Richardson said. “I tried to reach out to him, but he doesn’t care about guys like me. If he wants to continue isolating me, badmouthing me, that’s fine. I’m fine.”
Richardson’s endorsement, in March 2008, came with Hillary Clinton slightly trailing Obama but when the primary campaign was far from being decided.
His endorsement surprised many because Richardson had served as Clinton’s ambassador to the United Nations and as secretary of the Energy Department.
But Wednesday Richardson also something that no other high level politician has said so far this year – that he feared Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio might have won the election for Mitt Romney.
“I just think the election will be settled by the Hispanic vote,” he said. “By Nevada, Colorado, Florida. I was personally afraid Rubio would get on the ticket. I’m glad he didn’t get on the ticket.”
Richardson said the same on Fox News’ “Hannity.”
“The key is going to be those battleground states, states like New Mexico,” he said. “States like Arizona, states like Colorado, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, the president in those states, I think is still ahead.
‘Those are going to be the states, especially those Hispanic states where I’m from that I think are going to be decisive, Sean, because a very strong anti-immigrant policies by the other side. You’re going to see.”
As for Clinton and his role among Hispanics, Richardson was only one of the Latinos who served in his Cabinet.
Former San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisneros served as Clinton’s secretary of Housing and Urban Development until a sex scandal forced him to resign.
Cisneros was indicted for lying to the FBI — while he was being investigated for the position – about hush payments he had made to a former lover while he was mayor. In a plea agreement, Cisneros accepted guilt but was spared going to prison.
Federico Peña, former mayor of Denver, was another Hispanic Cabinet appointee in the Clinton administration. Peña served as Transportation Department secretary and late as secretary of the Department of Energy.
Additionally, at one point 37 Hispanics served in the Clinton White House, the Office of the First Lady or the Office of the Vice President alone.