ORONO (AP) – New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said Tuesday that he supported the president on the war in Iraq but he’s now critical of the Bush administration for not getting the United Nations involved.

“America, regrettably, has not learned its lesson of multi-nationalism well,” Richardson said. “Right now, America is bearing the cost, not just in dollars but international standing.”

Richardson, a former member of the House, Energy secretary in the Clinton administration and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, delivered an address as the first speaker in the Governor’s Distinguished Lecture Series.

The lecture at the Maine Center for the Arts was a collaborative effort of the university and the Maine governor’s office.

After his talk, Richardson said the administration’s decision this week to reconfigure the chain of command in post-war Iraq by creating the White House-run Iraq Stabilization Group signaled an acknowledgment that current reconstruction efforts, headed by the Pentagon, were failing, the Bangor Daily News reported.

White House officials, responding to similar criticism this week, denied any attempts to wrest power from the Pentagon. Instead, they described the reorganization as a way to “cut though red tape” as the United States increases its involvement and investment in Iraq.

Gov. John Baldacci, who served with Richardson in Congress, was joined by University of Maine President Peter Hoff in welcoming Richardson as he spoke at the state’s flagship university.

Richardson, a Democrat, quickly turned his comments to the war in Iraq, expressing concern over how the Bush administration’s failure to enlist the help of the United Nations could hurt the world standing of the United States.

He also praised the state’s independent streak.

“Whenever I think of Maine, I think of an independent streak of men and women in a state,” Richardson said. “You’re a barometer state because nobody knows what you’re going to do electionwise. And I think that’s a huge asset.”

Richardson’s high profile in the Democratic Party and as the top elected Hispanic in the country has led to his name being mentioned as vice presidential contender in 2004 or presidential candidate in 2008.

But Richardson said last month says he will not accept any offer to be the vice presidential candidate. Asked about 2008, he said that he intended run for re-election as governor of New Mexico.

On the Net: http://www.bangordailynews.com

AP-ES-10-07-03 1859EDT

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