Hispanic leaders close to the Obama administration are lobbying the president to name former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson as Hillary Clinton’s successor as Secretary of State, according to sources in Washington.
Such an appointment would be historic, making Richardson the highest ranking Latino to ever serve in the federal government.
But those sources acknowledge that Richardson ranks second and possibly third on the White House short list of candidates for Secretary of State.
Richardson, however, is high on the president’s list to join his Cabinet in another post, sources said.
Ironically, Richardson was the favorite of many Congressional Democrats for Secretary of State in 2008 when his international experience was greater than that of Hillary Clinton.
Bill Richardson under the Clinton administration
Richardson had served as President Bill Clinton’s ambassador to the United Nations.
His achievements in the international field also included securing a pardon for Eliadah McCord, an American serving a prison sentence in Bangladesh, as well as retrieving another American captive, Evan Huziker, from custody in North Korea.
But Hillary Clinton’s appointment to the high profile post of Secretary of State was seen by many as Obama’s payback for President Clinton’s campaign support against Republican John McCain as well as a final stitch in mending ties with the Clintons with whom Obama had strained relations in the primaries.
Richardson’s support for Obama over Hillary Clinton in 2008 caused a falling-out with President Clinton for whom he had also served as Energy Secretary.
Obama nominated Bill Richardson as his Commerce Secretary, but Richardson withdrew his name because of an investigation into possible financial improprieties in New Mexico. Richardson was subsequently cleared in that investigation.