Former U.N. Ambassador Bill Richardson on the Bolton Appointment

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," August 1, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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KIRSTEN POWERS, GUEST CO-HOST: President Bush used a recess appointment earlier today to make John Bolton this country's next ambassador to the United Nations. Bolton's nomination has been the subject of a great deal of controversy over the past few months as Democrats and Republicans alike have expressed concerns about Bolton's temperament and behavior while an employee of the U.S. State Department.

But his morning, the debate came to an end. Joining us now is the governor of New Mexico, himself a former ambassador to the United Nations, Bill Richardson.

Welcome, Governor.


POWERS: So how do you think Bolton's going to be received by his colleagues? You know first-hand how things operate up there.

RICHARDSON: Well, he's the first American ambassador to the U.N. whose nomination bypassed the Senate. That's not good. He's perceived as not being pro-U.N. He's been perceived as not being supportive of U.N. missions.

His big asset, though, is the fact that he has political capital from the president of the United States, who is willing to stand behind him. So, at the U.N., he has an uphill battle, but I think we have to put all of that behind him and try to help him.

What I would do at the U.N. right now is I'd go see everyone of those 190 other U.N. ambassadors. I was able to do it. I think he needs to do that. Learn as much as you can about how the U.N. operates. Show respect for the institution.

Thirdly, I'd go back to those senators that opposed him, especially on Foreign Relations — Republicans, too — and say, "Look, I want to work with you," because those senators can hurt him when Bolton comes to the Congress for support for some peacekeeping or other U.N. activities that he wants to pursue.

Lastly, what I would do is associate himself with the movement that the president backs not to cut dues at the United Nations. There's a movement in Congress to cut dues. This will hamper Bolton. It hampered me, and Madeleine Albright, and others that were there.

And then I believe he's able to recover from what is obviously a bad start.

POWERS: Well, why do you think he was so controversial? He wasn't just controversial with Democrats. As you know, there were Republicans who opposed him. What do you think, at the end of the day, really was the problem that so many people had with this nominee?

RICHARDSON: Well, I believe a lot of it was his management style, the fact that he appeared to silence and try to replace subordinates, the fact that he was alleged not to be a team player at the State Department, that he had a very narrow agenda.

But the reality is, he is now somebody that is our U.N. ambassador. This is the third most important foreign policy position. And it's important that he succeed.

He's got a lot of changes he's going to have to make to be accepted there and be effective on our behalf. So what I would do, with the Senate that you mentioned, Kirsten, is I would go to Senator Voinovich and Senators Hagel, and I would go to Biden and Senator Dodd and say, "Look, we had a lot of differences. What can we do to work together?"

He has to take those steps right away.


RICHARDSON: If he goes to the U.N. and starts charging, and saying, "It's going to be this way or the highway," he's going to be totally ineffective.

HANNITY: I think it was a total mischaracterization on the part of his political opponents. He's extremely intelligent, unapologetic in his support, Governor, for this country. And this has been, just like all the judicial nominees of the president, a political attack.

He would have passed if given an up-or-down vote in the Senate, isn't that true? And isn't this...

RICHARDSON: It would have been very narrow.

HANNITY: ... the Democrats, once again, showing their opposition? But he would have passed.

RICHARDSON: It would have been very narrow. And I do think that the administration could have provided documents relevant to some of the requests by the senators. But in the end, yes, it became political, ideological.


RICHARDSON: But that's the role of the Senate. That is the role of the Senate. This happened to President Clinton. President Clinton, by the way, also had some recess appointments.

HANNITY: Many of them, 143.

RICHARDSON: So the issue is, let's move on.


RICHARDSON: But Bolton needs to have some fundamental new approaches when he deals with the U.N. or he's going to be ineffective.

HANNITY: Maybe that's not a bad thing. But what about the U.N. and the massive failure as an institution it is and the massive corruption? If you look at U.N. oil-for-food, their lack of effectiveness in the Sudan, in Rwanda, U.N. peacekeepers and corruption, and rape in the Congo and elsewhere, there's a lot to be critical of here.

RICHARDSON: Well, there's no question of that. But what Bolton has to do — remember, there's 190 countries that you're going to need to reform the U.N. Going out there and saying, "This is how we're going to do it," without getting support from other countries — you're going to be ineffective.

So, in effect, Bolton has to really say, "Look, I believe in the institution. We've got to reform it, but let's do it together"...


HANNITY: I hope he doesn't believe in the institution. I want to see major reforms in that institution.

All right, the most important question I'm going to ask you tonight: Are you running for president?

RICHARDSON: I'm running for reelection. I'm chairman of the Democratic governors.

HANNITY: I hear you're cutting taxes in New Mexico again?

RICHARDSON: Yes, we're cutting taxes again this weekend. No taxes, tax-free holiday for food, back-to-school equipment, computers...

HANNITY: Are you thinking about it?

RICHARDSON: Well, yes, I'm thinking about it...

HANNITY: All right.

RICHARDSON: ... but I've made no decision. And, you know, I'll let you know after I let my local papers...


HANNITY: I get the first national interview, right? I'm counting on it.

RICHARDSON: All right. You got it, OK.

HANNITY: All right, thanks.

POWERS: Thank you, governor.

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