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Sunday, January 21, 2007
New Mexico governor announces presidential bid
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Seeking to make history as the first Hispanic elected to the White House, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson announced Sunday he would open a presidential exploratory committee.

"I am taking this step because we have to repair the damage that's been done to our country over the last six years," Richardson said in a statement posted on his presidential exploratory website: "Our reputation in the world is diminished, our economy has languished, and civility and common decency in government has perished."

Opening an exploratory committee allows Richardson to raise money to pay for staff and travel as he considers a presidential campaign. Even though Richardson has opened an exploratory committee, he notes in his statement that it is his "clear intention of seeking the Democratic nomination for President in 2008."

The New Mexico governor is well acquainted with the workings of Washington, having represented his state in the House as well as serving as both the Energy secretary and as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in former President Bill Clinton's administration.

Richardson recently won a second four-year term as governor and he served as chairman of the Democratic Governors' Association in the 2006 election cycle. The DGA chairmanship likely helped Richardson strengthen his national fundraising network, a critical component of a successful campaign because it is expected the race for the White House could cost upwards of $100 million.

Richardson joins what is fast becoming a crowded field of Democrats who have either announced a full fledged presidential run or are formally exploring a bid. New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama are exploring presidential bids, while Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich and former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack have all declared their candidacies. Delaware Sen. Joe Biden said he will open an exploratory committee by the end of the month and Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, has indicated he will make a decision soon on whether to run again.

On the Republican side, Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback formally declared his candidacy Saturday, while former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, California Rep. Duncan Hunter, Arizona Sen. John McCain, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo and former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson have opened exploratory committees. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia, Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former New York Gov. George Pataki are also all considering White House bids.

-- CNN Political Editor Mark Preston
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