Bill Richardson on Rock-Star Status, Rudy, Foreign Intervention

Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson doesn’t want to peak too soon.

“Well, I can’t compete Senator Clinton and Obama. I don’t think anyone can,” he said during a round-table with reporters after he spoke at the National Action Network this afternoon in midtown. “But I don’t believe money or rock-star status is going to win this election.”

He added, “I don’t want to surface to the top right now. This race is 10 months away. All of you are obsessed with these numbers. On fund-raising, I did respectably well. Any other year, without these rock-star fund-raising figures, my figure would have been considered impressive. Now, it’s just respectable.”

I asked Richardson to compare his foreign policy experience to that of Rudy Giuliani, who is selling himself as the security candidate.

“No, I’m not going to do that — I want to stay positive in this campaign,” Richardson said. “I think the voters should make those decisions. You know, we’ll draw contrasts at the right time if he’s the nominee and I’m the nominee.”

Richardson went on to compliment Giuliani, a little:

“But, I know Mayor Giuliani,” he said. “I knew him when I was U.N. ambassador, and we had a good working relationship. We worked on parking tickets.”

Richardson had gotten an enthusiastic reception during his speech earlier when said that as president, he would focus American foreign policy on Africa, and when he emphasized the need to withdraw American troops form Iraq.

I asked what his threshold would be for military intervention.

“Only if American national security interests are affected,” he said. “I think in Africa you could use U.N. peace keeping forces that are not American. I would also, at the U.N., have a permanent peace keeping force. You don’t have one. You know, in Darfur right now, there’s talk about 5,000 U.N. troops. Well, now we have to find them and recruit them. It’s going to be another year. So, I would support a permanent U.N. peace keeping force.”