3:44 pm Aug. 23, 2012
The biggest name at Andrew Cuomo's inaugural policy conference yesterday, aside from maybe the governor himself, was former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson.
Amid a couple of dry panel discussions, Richardson had the laugh line of the day, with a joke about Cuomo's presidential prospects in 2016.
"Iowa has an excellent community college system of renewable energy, I would urge you to look at that," Richardson said during a discussion on energy policy. "Governor, you'll learn a little bit about Iowa in the future."
Richardson and Cuomo served together in the cabinet of Bill Clinton, during the latter years of the administration. Richardson was appointed energy secretary in 1998, a year after Cuomo joined as the secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
But the two took opposite approaches to Hillary Clinton's candidacy in 2008.
Cuomo was a relatively active surrogate for Clinton in the state, while Richardson (who ran his own short-lived campaign) became the poster boy for Clinton-apostasy.
After months of courtship from Bill, Richardson informed the Clintons in March of 2008, just as things were beginning to slip away, that he would be endorsing Barack Obama. Even worse, he criticized the tone of Clinton's campaign and hinted that she ought to drop out.
“Mr. Richardson’s endorsement came right around the anniversary of the day when Judas sold out for 30 pieces of silver, so I think the timing is appropriate, if ironic,” James Carville told the New York Times.
(Howard Wolfson, then a spokesman for Clinton, pleaded ignorance when asked who Hillary was supposed to be in that scenario.)
Neither Cuomo nor Clinton has expressed any public desire to run in 2016, though pollsters have seen fit to survey the subject, and it could lead to a very awkward dance, if both turn out to be interested.
When I asked Richardson about his Cuomo-in-Iowa joke, he said it was just that.
"I think he's got tremendous potential, but that was just a joke," Richardson said. "When I was in Iowa, no one mentioned, when I was there."
When I asked Richardson about the prospect of Hillary Clinton in 2016, he stood up from his chair.
"No comment," he said.