Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson joined ABC News for a web interview after his appearance on the “This Week” roundtable on Sunday, answering viewer questions about his time as governor, his experience meeting with the Taliban, and his thoughts on Korean ruler Kim Jong-Un. When asked about Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Richardson expressed his distaste for the senator.
“I’m not a fan. I know [Ted Cruz is] sort of the Republican latest flavor. He’s articulate. He seems to be charismatic, but I don’t like his politics. I think he introduces a measure of incivility in the political process. Insulting people is not the way to go. But I guess he’s a force in the Republican political system, but I’m not a fan.”
ABC News: Do you think he represents most Hispanics with his politics?
“No, no. He’s anti-immigration. Almost every Hispanic in the country wants to see immigration reform. No, I don’t think he should be defined as a Hispanic. He’s a politician from Texas. A conservative state. And I respect Texas’ choice. But what I don’t like is… when you try to get things done, it’s okay to be strong and state your views, your ideology. But I’ve seen him demean the office, be rude to other senators, not be part of, I think, the civility that is really needed in Washington.”
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Scott Malensek: What was it like meeting… the Taliban?
“It was a surreal experience. I was the first cabinet member to see the Taliban. We were trying to get a cease fire and trying to get some improvements for women. I sat next to this guy who had several weapons with himself. And I knew the negotiation wasn’t going well when he started cutting his toenails with his big, big bowie knife. But we did make some progress after my visit.”
@DoofusWalstib: Gov, do you think you can get Kim Jong-Un to behave if you give him tickets to the NBA Finals, perhaps next to the president?
“You know, I’m a little envious of Dennis Rodman because Rodman had a chance to visit with him. And Eric Schmidt of Google and I were there in January didn’t. I think this guy is a big mystery. Nobody knows anything about him. He hasn’t met with anybody so it’s not as if there’s some intelligence out there about him. My hope is that because he speaks English, he was educated in the Swiss school, he’s 29, 30, he seems to be comfortable with himself as a politician, as a leader, that maybe there’s some sanity to him. But my concern is that he is being manipulated and run by some of the hard-line North Korean generals, Communist Politburo that seem to be moving him very much in the wrong direction. I think with our North Korea policy, it’s essentially eventually that there be a dialogue with him and the leadership in North Korea. Because North Korea is a dangerous place.”
Diane Laughlin: I would love to know if Bill Richardson is interested in running for president; he would get my vote!
“Well, you get once shot to run for president. I had my shot. I still want to be involved in the political process, but I’m a private citizen now. I spent thirty years in government. I’ve got the foundation work I want to do. I want to still be engaged in foreign policy. I want to protect wild mustangs, the bison, environmental issues. I want to stop a slaughterhouse in New Mexico of horses. But I want to do it as a private citizen.”
“Butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid. Favorite actor — Robert Redford, who is a friend. I call him ‘Sundance.’ He doesn’t like to be called that.”
“I would say Governor Schwarzenegger, the former governor of ‘California’ as he says it. I like Jon Huntsman too. We were friends as governors, from Utah. But I would say Schwarzenegger. He’s a character. He’s charismatic. He cares about issues. I know he’s had some problems, but you asked me who my favorite, and that’s Arnold.”
“Chicken tacos with green chile. Lots of them — as you can tell.”
“Governor. I’ve been in the Congress. I’ve been in the cabinet. I’ve been in the private sector. But governor — because you can make a difference. You can build a school. You can help a child. You can do it and set an agenda, especially in a small state like New Mexico. We did a lot of good things — renewable energy, built the movie industry, protected the environment… governor leadership enabled me to do that. So that’s my favorite job.”
Fondest Tufts Moment?
“When I was elected president of my fraternity at Tufts, it was my first political foray. I thought I was going to lose, but then I won. My first question was, ‘What am I going to do?’”
Will the beard return?
“The beard will return soon. I don’t know what the definition of soon is… but you know I just go through phases. I put the beard on because I wanted to rebel against my handlers who always wanted me to well-kept, combed right, shaved. It was a rebellion against them. Then my wife didn’t like it, so I took it off. But maybe that beard will make a comeback.”
Viewer questions have been edited, shortened and condensed in some cases.