Promoting the concept of good global citizenship, former President Clinton implored black leaders Thursday to take better care of their health, reduce their use of energy and recognize the promises and peril of globalization.
Appearing before the National Action Network, a civil rights group founded by Rev. Al Sharpton, Clinton gave a wide-ranging talk on topics from the genocide in Darfur to his efforts to reduce the calorie content of soft drinks. He spoke of a booming global economy that has enriched many but has remained unattainable for most.
With black voters a key part of the Democratic Party base, Sharpton’s gathering attracted almost all the major Democratic presidential contenders.
A highly popular figure among black voters, President Clinton offered an added boost to his wife, who was scheduled to address the group Friday. Sen. Barack Obama, who hopes to be the first black president, was set to speak Saturday.
Joe Biden, who followed the former president to the podium, jokingly thanked him for warming up the audience and said he’d also “warmed up the presidency” for him.
Earlier Thursday, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said he would make Africa a foreign policy priority as president.
“Somehow it’s not considered by American policymakers to have the importance it deserves,” Richardson said. “Issues related to AIDS, refugees, issues related to governance, international poverty _ somehow this continent is forgotten.”
Richardson, a former ambassador to the United Nations, said that as president he would press to add an African nation to the U.N. Security Council. He also touted his recent efforts to help bring about a fragile cease-fire in Darfur.
An Hispanic American, Richardson said he was proud to be part of a diverse field of candidates that includes a womanHillary Clintonas well as a black man, Barack Obama.
“I’m going to be, hopefully, the first Hispanic elected president,” he said to applause. “If it’s not me, we may have the first African-American president, or the first woman president.