Street debate

Cheryl Huett and Bill Richardson exchange views.

Cheryl Huett and Bill Richardson exchange views.

Photo By Dennis Myers

Presidential candidate Bill Richardson was having an easy time of it at the Sparks Farmers’ Market last week. He walked down the line of booths shaking hands with vendors, he greeted passers-by, he gave money to a girls’ softball team called the Wolverines. Then he encountered vendor Cheryl Huett of Washoe Valley, who markets Goodi’s Fresh Squeezed Lemonade. She started questioning him closely on health care, the war and other issues. She drew long, detailed answers from him.

When she asked, “How would you go after bin Ladin now? Are you willing to go in and get him out of Pakistan, whether Musharraf…?” Richardson interrupted: “Boy, you really know your issues, don’t you?”

But for all her persistence, Huett found it difficult to get one answer on Iraq: “Were you for it when they went in?”

Richardson replied, “I was for it when the troops were there.”

That wasn’t really what Huett was asking, so to try to get more information for Huett we contacted Albuquerque Tribune reporter Michael Gisick in Richardson’s home state for more information on what Richardson said about the war back before troops were sent in. Gisick reported, “His [Richardson’s] main theme during the run-up seems to have been pushing for action through the UN. He said he thought Saddam had WMD and faulted the UN for failing to take tougher action. He also called for supporting the troops.”

A news story that ran two days before the war started read: “New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, formerly U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said Monday he would have preferred that the United States have the support of the U.N. Security Council. Richardson said he was disappointed the United Nations had failed to hold Saddam Hussein ‘to the highest standards.'”

The verbal tussle and persistence flowed both ways. During their discussion, Richardson had difficulty getting Huett to understand that she can attend the Nevada presidential caucuses in February without having it affect her participation in the Nevada primary in August. He asked his aides to follow up with her.