Gov. Bill Richardson, the affable man who ran on a deep résumé and a promise to be the "energy president," stepped out of the race for the Democratic nomination Thursday, according to press reports.
Richardson, besides being the first Hispanic candidate to make such a strong showing in a presidential race and in a year with the strongest black and women candidates, no less was an early champion among Democrats of a revolutionary energy policy that would combat global warming, reduce dependence on foreign oil and increase research and development of alternative and renewable sources of energy.
In presidential races, it's often the losing candidates who prod the winners toward more aggressive policies, for good or ill. Richardson should be credited with putting his opponents for the Democratic nod on the record early that they would have a fight if they didn't match his policies. While some planks of Richardson's energy plan remained more aggressive than his competitors, Democrats without exception have outlined detailed and aggressive plans for addressing climate change and transforming America's economy to run on low-carbon diet. His stance may have helped prompt opponents to be specific about how they'd pay for their energy policy.
The nexus of global warming, oil dependence, economic and national security is the heart of this campaign, even if not all the candidates speak fluently about the connections. Richardson's policy promises did that, and they helped move others in his direction.
Pushing the country along on the most important issue of the day. It's as productive a result, next to winning, that any candidate should expect.
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