This is a partial transcript of The Big Story With John Gibson, May 18, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.


SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: President Bush promised help . He promised in the No Child Left Behind Act that billions of dollars would be coming to America. [SPEAKING SPANISH]


JOHN GIBSON, HOST: Senator John Kerry (search) boning up on his Spanish as well as his French, reaching out to Hispanic voters. President Bush doing the same. Both keenly aware of the key role Latinos could play in several swing states and the fact that pollsters say the Latino vote is up for grabs.

Democrat Bill Richardson (search), governor of New Mexico, where President Bush lost in 2000 by just 366 votes, probably most of them Latinos. Today's big question, Governor, what will it take to win over Latino voters?

BILL RICHARDSON (D) GOVERNOR OF NEW MEXICO: A message by the Democratic Party, number one, not to take the vote for granted. Number two, focusing on issues important to Hispanics. Not just civil rights, immigration, affirmative action, but you got to talk to Hispanics on broader issues, broader mainstream issues like home ownership, like economic development, education, finding capital. The new younger Latino — what we're talking about now is three million new Hispanic registered voters since the year 2000. And the Democratic objective is going to be to hold the Republicans to what they got in the year 2000, which is 35%. If they get to 40% and they get that 5% extra, the Republicans, in states like Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, and Florida, then the Republicans could have enough electoral votes and inroads to win the elections. So the Latino vote is key, John.

GIBSON: And it appears from reading the polling that it is kind of up for grabs. There seems to be a high number of voters who haven't made up their mind and could form a swing vote. Now, I know you're a Democrat, and you have your tie on today, instead of your bolo. So I assume you want to be considered for the vice presidential nomination.

RICHARDSON: No, I don't. It's actually a black tie. It's not my bolo.

GIBSON: I know it's not your bolo. When you wear the tie — OK. Let's talk vice presidency. Now, governor, look at both guys. I mean, here is John Kerry trying to appeal to the Latino voters and George Bush. I mean, George Bush is fairly attractive to Latino voters, isn't he?

RICHARDSON: Yes, and the fact that he was a governor of Texas, he got a lot of Latino votes as governor. He's good with them. His Spanish is respectable. The problem that he has, John, is not what he does, but the Republican Party record, the perception among Latino voters is that Proposition 187 in California widely views as anti-immigrant ...

GIBSON: You morphed Pete Wilson into George Bush?

RICHARDSON: The — this is the party — there's a perception that the Republican Party in the Congress has been anti-immigrant, anti-Hispanic. Not George Bush. What the Republicans probably are going to do is flood the airwaves with Bush speaking in Spanish, a lot of voter outreach. This is going to be a serious challenge, and we are really working hard to get the Latinos not to be taken for granted.

GIBSON: All right. Let's ask your advice for John Kerry on a key issue. Polling shows Hispanic voters, many of them religious, Catholics, go to church, observe their religion, are very opposed to the desires of a key democratic constituency, gay people for gay marriage, and that the numbers run very high against this idea among Hispanics and African-Americans, as a matter of fact. So how does Kerry dance around and maintain those gay people and maintain the people who think that gays ought to have the right to marry and not offend Hispanic and African-American voters?

RICHARDSON: Well, right now, John, Senator Kerry has the right position. He's against gay marriage. He believes it's a state issue. He believes in anti-discrimination clauses relating to employment and insurance and against hate crimes. That's where America really is, and I believe that that's a strong enough position where he should be.

GIBSON: Even with the convention at Boston and him being a Massachusetts senator? It's going to underline everything, isn't it?

RICHARDSON: I don't believe it's going to be a problem. Senator Kerry has a good, aggressive program to recruit Hispanics. He's reaching out. He has all these house parties going on. He has a lot of high-level Hispanics helping hem. He's going into the Hispanic areas.

GIBSON: Let's talk about you. Does he need you on the ticket to help him get this Hispanic vote?

RICHARDSON: No. He's going to get that ...

GIBSON: Come on, governor. Look at you. Look at this smile. That looks like a nominee's smile. Come on.

RICHARDSON: He needs me to work hard in New Mexico, which I'll do, and Nevada and Arizona, in other states with Hispanic — and that's what I intend to do. I'm just too happy being governor of New Mexico.

GIBSON: Well, I know. It is the land of enchantment, and it is — it's a great place. You know, you have red chile and green chile, but you would be interested in that nomination. Well, you know your New Mexico.

RICHARDSON: I do. No, I'm not interested. I'm not seeking it. I made a pledge to my voters that I would stay for four years. Nobody, however, believes me, so this is why you keep smiling and asking me these things.

GIBSON: I know, but, I mean, here is — look at the calculations. Only today they're saying, well, Kerry ought to consider Bill Nelson because he can cut into George Bush's lead with Cuban voters in Florida. Well, if you are making that calculation, why not calculate the Richardson factor?

RICHARDSON: Well, the fact is that those four states, regardless of anyone being on the ticket, John, I think regardless, Florida, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada because they were all decided by 1 percent or 2 percent in the last few elections, and because they're Hispanic growth is growing enormously, that those are going to be the four key states. So appealing to Latinos and Hispanics is key for President Bush and Senator Kerry. And our goal is very simple, just keep the Republicans from getting an extra 5 percent. If they get 40 percent and we're at 60 percent-40 percent, it's going to hurt us in the electoral map, especially in those four battleground states.

GIBSON: Governor Bill Richardson swearing all he wants to be when he grows up is governor of New Mexico. Governor, it's good to talk to you. Thanks a lot.

RICHARDSON: Thank you.

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