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Richardson to End 2008 Presidential Bid

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[January 10, 2008]  RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) -- New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson is shelving his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination after back-to-back fourth-place finishes in the first two contests in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Richardson, 60, planned to announce his plans Thursday, according to two people close to the governor with knowledge of the decision. They spoke late Wednesday condition of anonymity in advance of the governor's remarks.

Richardson campaign officials declined to comment on the governor's decision, reached after a meeting with his top advisers Wednesday in New Mexico. The governor was believed to have remained in New Mexico after Wednesday's meeting, but neither his campaign office nor his gubernatorial office issued a public schedule for him Thursday.

With the New Mexico Legislature convening for its annual one-month regular session next Tuesday, there was speculation the two-term governor might announce was "suspending" his campaign for the time being -- rather than formally withdrawing from the race.

Richardson had one of the most wide-ranging resumes of any candidate ever to run for the presidency, bringing experience from his time in Congress, President Clinton's Cabinet, in the New Mexico Statehouse as well as his unique role as a freelance diplomat. As a Hispanic, he added to the unprecedented diversity in the Democratic field that also included a black man and a woman.

But Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama dominated the spotlight in the campaign, and Richardson was never able to become a top-tier contender, trailing well behind former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards as well.

Richardson fell below 5 percent in the New Hampshire primary Tuesday and came in with just 2 percent in the Iowa caucus last week.

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Edwards congratulated Richardson, saying he had run a good race.

There was no immediate comment from the other campaigns.

"He was a very good candidate, a serious candidate," said Edwards said in Columbia, S.C. "I congratulate him. He ought to be proud of what he's done. What's happened is, over time the race is becoming more focused. I think that's good for democracy. I think this thing's going on for a long time," Edwards said.

"I assume the other two (leading candidates are," Edwards added. "I know I am. I'm in it for the long haul."

Richardson was easily elected to two terms as governor but will be forced from office by term limits in 2010. His closest advisers hope that even if his presidential campaign didn't bring him many votes, it built his reputation so that he'll one day be able to add even more to his resume.


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[Associated Press; By NEDRA PICKLER]

Associated Press Writer Scott Lindlaw in Columbia, S.C., contributed to this report.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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