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Onetime BFFs Bill Richardson and Bill Clinton are still on the outs -- way outs

October 9, 2008 |  7:30 pm

In happier times: President Clinton nominates Bill Richardson as Energy secretary in June 1998. Richardson previously served as U.S. ambassador to the U.N. They say that elephants never forget. It doesn't look like donkeys do, either.

Back in March, two months after ending his own quest for the Democratic presidential nomination, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson surprised the political world by endorsing Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton. It was, of course, Clinton's husband who, as president, had elevated the Latino congressman's national profile by selecting him for two important positions -- United Nations ambassador and Energy secretary.

Needless to say, Richardson's lack of loyalty this time around did not go over well with the Clintons and their supporters. Longtime aide James Carville even compared Richardson to the Bible's ultimate traitor: "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."

In April, Richardson explained his decision by saying he had been "very close to endorsing" Clinton but changed his mind when, to his mind, her campaign turned negative. "The Clintons should get over this," he said then.

Since then, at least one of them apparently has: In an interview broadcast this morning on National Public Radio, Richardson said he had organized a fundraiser two months ago to help retire Hillary Clinton's campaign debt. "We raised almost $250,000," he said. "She appreciated it. We talked."

But Bill Clinton, it seems, is not so forgiving.

"Have I heard from President Clinton? No," Richardson told NPR. "It could be pretty much a permanent fissure. But that’s politics, that’s OK. I did what I thought was best for the country. 

"I’m still very fond of the Clintons," he said. "I’ve reconciled with her, but with him -- he wants to keep a grudge, that’s fine with me.  I move on."

-- Leslie Hoffecker

Photo credit: Associated Press / Susan Walsh