Transcript: Bill Richardson on 'FOX News Sunday'

This is a rush transcript from "FOX News Sunday," November 11, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

CHRIS WALLACE, HOST: With the Iowa caucuses now just 53 days away, we continue our series Choosing the President.

Joining us from the campaign trail in Iowa, Governor Bill Richardson, candidate for the Democratic nomination.

And, Governor, welcome back to "Fox News Sunday."

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON, D-N.M.: Thanks, Chris. Nice to be with you.

WALLACE: Let's start with the turmoil in Pakistan. Speaking to the nation of Pakistan just this morning, President Musharraf said that they will hold elections as scheduled in January, but the state of emergency won't be lifted.

Governor, can there be fair and free elections while the constitution there is suspended?

RICHARDSON: Chris, at the outset today, being Veterans Day, I want to thank all the veterans that have served our country and made us free.

On your question, let me say that I'm very skeptical of this announcement of President Musharraf. You can't have democracy halfway. Yes, he said he's going to have elections, but I'm skeptical.

He still has a crackdown, martial law. The supreme court has been disbanded. I am extremely concerned that we are associating ourselves with a dictatorship that is basically just revamping the entire constitutional system to keep its purposes of being in power.

And then lastly, Chris, I am extremely concerned that President Musharraf has not delivered, in my judgment, as much as he could on going after Al Qaeda, on disbanding some of the terrorist headquarters that are on the Afghan-Pakistani border.

And it's a failure of leadership on the part of the Bush administration. We should be saying to Musharraf very clearly, "We give you $10 billion since 9/11. Unless you have free elections and return to democracy, unless you go after Al Qaeda in a determined and effective way, your conditional assistance may be terminated."

That's what I would do. I think right now we have a failed nation state on our hands.

WALLACE: Well, Governor, let me ask you about that, because you have said that if they're not going to hold fair elections, if they're not going to lift the emergency rule, that we should cut off all aid.

If he says no, what does that do to our leverage in Pakistan? And what does that do to the ability of the Pakistani army, limited or unsuccessful as it may have been, in going after the terrorists?

RICHARDSON: Well, Chris, if I'd been president, I never would have had us in this situation. What we need to do now...

WALLACE: But we are in this situation, sir.

RICHARDSON: Well, right now Musharraf is in dear trouble. Al Qaeda is getting stronger. Our leverage, I believe, right now is almost vanished.

What I would like to do -- what I would convince Musharraf to do is if he has free and fair elections, if he brings Benazir Bhutto in, the coalition government, if he opens up the supreme court, if he sincerely goes after Al Qaeda, then I believe our foreign policy objectives are dramatically increased.

Right now, Chris, we've got the worst of all worlds.

WALLACE: Governor, let's turn to Iraq, where you had staked out the most absolute position of all the Democratic candidates: All U.S. troops out of Iraq in the first year you're president, no residual forces.

I want to make sure I've got this straight. No combat forces, no counterterrorism forces, no forces to protect against ethnic cleansing and genocide, all out?

RICHARDSON: Yes, Chris, because I believe our troops have become targets.

When over 60 percent of the Iraqi people say it's OK to shoot at an American soldier, when right now it's no known movement toward a political solution, at a time when our Iraqi commander, General Sanchez, who is serving in Iraq is saying that this is a disaster coming, I believe the best policy today is to have a withdrawal of our forces within a year.

And we can do it. Our military experts say we can do it. But you have a diplomatic plan. You have diplomacy, a political compromise that the United States pushes, a Dayton-type agreement, getting the three groups of Iraq to have a political coalition, an all-Muslim peacekeeping force headed by the United Nations, a donor conference to rebuild Iraq.

Bring Iran and Syria into a solution that I believe everyone would want to have, because nobody wants to have a humanitarian crisis in Iraq, refugees spilling over.

So my plan is not just to get our troops out in a wave. My plan is to get our troops out, but use the leverage of that withdrawal to forge a political coalition.

WALLACE: But, Governor, isn't the plan that you're offering -- isn't it basically out of date? You've been saying this for months now. But aren't you, at this point, about to pull the troops out at exactly the moment when the troop surge shows signs of working?

I'd like you to take a look at these numbers, sir. Thirty-nine U.S. soldiers died in October. That's the lowest monthly number since sectarian violence spiked in March of 2006.

According to the U.S. military, Iraqi civilian deaths fell from 2,800 in January to 800 last month.

And, Governor, look at these numbers from Baghdad -- murders down 80 percent from the peak. Attacks using roadside bombs down 70 percent.

Governor, aren't you giving up -- aren't you going to turn back hard- won territory to our enemies just at the moment when the surge is beginning to work and violence is decreasing in Iraq?

RICHARDSON: First of all, I don't believe the surge is working. You don't mention progress...

WALLACE: Well, wait a minute. Wait.

RICHARDSON: ... Chris, by body count.

WALLACE: Sir, how do you explain those numbers? I mean, October was 39...

RICHARDSON: You don't measure progress by body counts. Here's how I would measure progress.

Number one, there is no progress in political compromise. The Maliki government has failed to make that happen in dividing up all revenues.

Three out of 18 benchmarks by the General Accounting Office have shown that it is a failure -- three out of the -- benchmarks, especially the ones that matter, like are we training Iraqi forces at a successful rate.

Is there movement toward a political compromise where the three groups get together? General Sanchez, our Iraqi commander, comes out and says basically the...

WALLACE: Wait a minute. Sir...

RICHARDSON: ... surge is a disaster.

WALLACE: ... I mean, you've mentioned Sanchez twice. He was our Iraqi commander a good long time ago, and he was let go as part of the Abu Ghraib scandal.

So I mean, he's not on top of the situation right now either. I mean, you're ignoring...

RICHARDSON: No, but, Chris, he's a military leader.

WALLACE: ... the fact that -- if I may.

RICHARDSON: He was on the ground.

WALLACE: Sir, you're ignoring the fact...

RICHARDSON: He was on the ground. He should know...

WALLACE: Some years ago.

RICHARDSON: ... if the surge is working.

WALLACE: Some years ago he was on the ground. It seems to me you're...

RICHARDSON: No, but my point...

WALLACE: ... ignoring the fact, Governor, that in Anbar province, the Sunnis have turned away from Al Qaeda and now favor us. Places like Ramadi and Fallujah -- people can walk down the street.

There are neighborhoods in Baghdad that used to be death zones that are now safe for people to walk. And aren't you ignoring just the facts on the ground in Iraq?

RICHARDSON: No, this is a quagmire. There is no military solution. There's only a political solution. And that window, in my judgment, is vanishing.

When 3,800 American troops are dead, 60,000 American troops are wounded -- mental health -- 100,000 Iraqis have perished, you can't say that this successfully has been a military operation.

There is a political solution, and I believe that solution can happen if we use the leverage of our withdrawal responsibly over a 12- month period, but push the United States diplomacy, leadership, a Dayton-type agreement in which the three groups in Iraq potentially have some kind of a political compromise where they share power, an all-Muslim peacekeeping force with European forces, too, headed by the United Nations to patrol that potential agreement.

And then thirdly, other countries, Chris, like donor countries in Europe and Japan, to pay for a war that has cost the American people $750 billion.

We need to shift our forces. I would keep some in Kuwait. I would refurbish our presence in Afghanistan. We need two more divisions in the Army. We need one division in the Marines.

Our military has been bled dry by this war. It is time to shift.

WALLACE: Governor, let's shift, if we can, to domestic issues. One of the big issues in the Democratic campaign right now has been whether to allow illegal immigrants to get driver's licenses.

Now, as governor of New Mexico, you signed a law making New Mexico one of only eight states in the country that allows that.

The 9/11 Commission says that 13 of the 19 hijackers who flew those planes into the buildings that day had valid U.S. driver's licenses, and some of them used those to get on those planes.

So aren't you, in effect, creating a tremendous security breach for terrorists?

RICHARDSON: Chris, four years ago, the legislature sent a bill to me and, at the request of my law enforcement leaders, I signed it, which allows licenses for undocumented workers.

The reason I did this is because there's a failure of an immigration law in the Congress and the president. It's a matter for us in New Mexico of public safety, of safety on the roads.

At the time that I signed the bill, 33 percent drivers were uninsured. Today it's 11 percent uninsured. This law has helped. It's a matter of public safety.

Now, I also have a responsibility as a governor, you know, when the federal government and the Congress don't act, to protect my citizens. That's the reason I did it, as a matter of public safety.

WALLACE: But, Governor, can I ask...

RICHARDSON: And if you want to look at it...

WALLACE: ... you about another aspect of public safety? Is there any security provision in the law, anything, that prevents illegals from using these driver's licenses that you give them to get on airplanes?

RICHARDSON: Chris, there are valid certificates of identification that they have to provide to the motor vehicles department of New Mexico. We have had this law now for four years, and it has been successful.

It has lowered the number of uninsured. Traffic safety accidents have gone down. We're able to keep track of where these individuals are.

WALLACE: But it wouldn't stop them...

RICHARDSON: Nonetheless, this is unpopular.

WALLACE: ...from getting on an airplane, sir.

RICHARDSON: This is an unpopular decision, but I believe it's the right decision for my people. What we need is comprehensive immigration.

Why isn't the Congress and the president getting together and passing standards that would allow states like mine to protect our own citizens without having to take these measures?

We are acting because the federal government and the Congress and the president are refusing to act. We have an immigration crisis in this country.

WALLACE: Governor, we have a couple of minutes left and I want to talk to you about where you stand in the Democratic race.

In the last debate, you came to the defense of Hillary Clinton, which led some observers to think that maybe you're really running for the number two slot on her ticket. Let's take a look.


RICHARDSON: I'm hearing this holier-than-thou attitude toward Senator Clinton. It's bothering me because it's pretty close to personal attacks that we don't need.



(UNKNOWN): Could I help out at all?

(UNKNOWN): Actually, we could use some ice.

(UNKNOWN): I'm on it.



WALLACE: That last, of course, from "Saturday Night Live."

Governor, you deny you're after the number two slot, so tell us quickly a few issues where you disagree with Senator Clinton.

RICHARDSON: Well, first, I want to get all our troops out of Iraq and leave no residual forces behind. She wants to leave 75,000.

Secondly, on Iran, that resolution branding the revolutionary guard terrorists -- I would have voted against it because it was saber-rattling. We don't need to give the president another opportunity to justify a potential military effort.

Third, on education issues, no child left behind -- I want to get rid of it. She wants to keep it.

There are many ways that we're different. My point there, Chris, is that we shouldn't get personal. We shouldn't engage in personal attacks about whether we trust the candidate or the candidate is controlled by special interests.

The American people want a positive campaign. They don't want us to tear each other down. I'm a candidate who's positive, who's patriotic. I want to talk about what's good for America, how we can bring people together.

The point I was making is that, in my judgment, both Senator Edwards and Senator Obama were getting in that range that would be branded as personal attacks. We don't need that.

WALLACE: Governor?

RICHARDSON: The voters here in Iowa and New Hampshire -- they want clean campaigns, and that's what I was advocating.

WALLACE: Governor, we have a minute left, and...

RICHARDSON: I'm not interested in being vice president.

WALLACE: Governor, we have a minute left, and I want to ask you about one other pressing question. Dennis Kucinich got a lot of attention at the last debate when he said that he had seen a UFO at Shirley MacLaine's home.

And she says, in fact, that you're the one that should be talked about. Take a look.


SHIRLEY MACLAINE, ACTRESS: And if they had asked Governor Bill Richardson, he would have, too, because he is the governor of UFOs in New Mexico.


WALLACE: Governor, in a 2004 book, you said the government should disclose everything it knows about the 1947 crash in Roswell, New Mexico, and this is what you said. "The American people can handle the truth, no matter how bizarre or mundane."

So what truth? What don't the American people don't know about the crash in Roswell in 1947?

RICHARDSON: Well, first of all, I don't believe in UFOs. Secondly, I don't think there was any potential sightings.

But the problem here, Chris, is like in many other cases, the federal government, instead of like releasing all the information when they had it and saying that this is all the documentation we have about those incidents in Roswell, never did it. So it causes enormous suspicion.

Now, look. I'm governor of New Mexico. Roswell, New Mexico is a great town in my state. They have a UFO museum. They have a tradition there.

You know, admittedly, sometimes I pump it up for tourism reasons because that's my job as the governor. I have to promote jobs and tourism.

But the reality, really, is that in many cases the federal government, the Pentagon especially, should just release this information, all they have, just get it out there so the public can make up their minds.

WALLACE: Governor, we have to go, but I think you just lost Shirley MacLaine's vote.

We want to thank you so much for talking with us, and safe travels on the campaign trail, sir.

RICHARDSON: Thank you.

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