Richardson Rising

Inside Report: Richardson Rising
By Robert Novak

WASHINGTON -- New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson is viewed by Democratic insiders as rising to the top of the party's second-tier presidential candidates, becoming a leading vice-presidential prospect and an increasingly possible nominee for president.

Richardson's past service as a member of Congress, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and secretary of energy makes him a more experienced public servant than any of the first-tier Democratic candidates: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards. A Mexican-American and a Westerner, Richardson is seen as strong in the critically important bloc of states that include Arizona, Nevada and Colorado, in addition to New Mexico.

While Richardson now trails his front-running Democratic rivals by a wide margin, his strategists consider him a strong competitor in New Hampshire. A victory in that state's first-in-the-nation primary could propel him to the head of the pack.

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