ROCHESTER — Bill Richardson's presidential campaign has the support of two politically active fathers who have sons serving in Iraq.
Wil Boc, the former Dover mayor, and Peter Somssich, the Portsmouth Democratic Committee chairman, cited the candidate's Iraq position — an immediate troopwithdrawal with no residual forces — as key to their support, the campaign said.
But Boc, who recently hosted the Democratic New Mexico governor at his home, said there's more to his endorsement.
"I think he's electable. I think he's a fresh face in politics. He doesn't give a measured answer measuring every word to make sure it's politically correct," he said, adding "I like his honesty and integrity."
Boc, who was in the Army, has a son, Sam, 25, serving with a medical unit ins upport of Marines in Iraq.
Boc said he thinks the war will drive the election. "I've been saying to everybody that to me it's about the war, stupid," he said, adding a phrase he stressed he didn't coin: "The U.S. Army is at war and the rest of America is at the mall."
The former mayor said he agrees with Richardson that America's presence in Iraq inflames tensions.
Richardson, who has seen a rise in state polling and is expected return to the state for his 11th trip since July at the end of the week, also secured the support of state Rep. Susan Kepner of Hampton and Portsmouth activist Thomas Slater.
The campaign cited Richardson's experience — as an executive, diplomat, energy secretary and ambassador — as a key reason for their support.
In a campaign news release, Somssich said Richardson "is the one presidential candidate who understands that the removal of all US troops from Iraq with no residual forces left behind is the critical first step toward providing a real chance for peace and stability in the region."
Richardson's N.H. spokesman, Alex Goepfert, said once the war is de-authorized and withdrawal begins, American troops can be redeployed from Iraq in a "quick, orderly and effective manner" within six months, "but even if it takes a little longer the main point is to get all U.S. troops out."
"Under the governor's plan, many of them will come home but sufficient forces will also be deployed within the region to support the fight against global terrorism. For example, more troops are needed in Afghanistan to fight the resurging Taliban and Al Qaeda forces," he added.
Richardson thinks troop withdrawal will deprive Al Qaeda, other insurgents and anti-American Shia groups from exploiting a perception held by Iraqis and others in the region that the U.S. wants Iraq's oil, Goepfert said. "Once all US troops are out of Iraq, Al Qaeda foreigners will no longer be able to justify their presence there and the Iraqis will drive them out," he said.
New Hampshire Communications Director
Bill Richardson for President