SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Bill Clinton paid homage at a funeral mass Thursday to former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson as a groundbreaking Latino politician and unorthodox master diplomat who could coax good things out of dictators and despots.
Richardson served as the United States’ ambassador to the United Nations and energy secretary under the former president, who described his unique trust in Richardson on the international stage and as a custodian of national security and nuclear weapons labs, including facilities at Los Alamos, New Mexico.
“The bad guys liked him. But there’s a reason for that,” said Clinton, describing an early mission by Richardson as U.N. ambassador to encourage a democratic transition of power in the Democratic Republic of Congo. “If you scratch hard enough and long enough on anybody, there’s almost always still a person down there somewhere. ... He may be twisted beyond untwisting. But once in a while, they do the right thing anyway. Bill Richardson knew that.”
Richardson died in his sleep at his home in Chatham, Massachusetts, earlier this month at age 75.