ROCK HILL, S.C. - Democratic presidential hopeful Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico knows he's not a "rock star" candidate, but he said he's working on it.
He thanked the approximately 75 people who attended a campaign-stop breakfast Saturday sponsored by the York County Democrats for taking the time to learn more about him.
"All I'm asking you to do is just keep your powder dry," he said. "We've got six months in this race."
That's six-plus months until the 2008 S.C. Democratic presidential primary on Jan. 29. The general election is almost 16 months away.
Richardson said he continues to move up in the polls and in fundraising, joking that, "of course, I started below the margin of error."
Speaking without notes, Richardson ticked off his top issues and key solutions, mixing equal parts policy and humor. At times he jumped back and forth between issues, emphasizing foreign policy and Iraq, education, health care for all and the economy.
"The first thing I'm going to say is, I'm going to follow the Constitution of the United States," he said, jabbing at controversies over the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention center and, he said, "torture" of enemy combatants.
Richardson said restoring America's prestige in the world was his No. 1 concern.
He said he'd work with Iran and Syria to establish an all-Muslim peacekeeping force in Iraq, saying making peace involves "making peace with your enemies."
Those attending Richardson's visit said they were impressed with his breadth of experience as a congressman, a governor, secretary of energy and ambassador to the United Nations.
"We certainly need somebody who understands how to work with other countries without being a schoolyard bully," said Barbara Kurz, secretary of the York County Democratic Party.
Richardson said his experience with veterans affairs, Native American issues, nuclear waste and balancing budgets made him qualified to address key S.C. issues.
The Southwest and the Southeast share values, he said, and it's time the Democrats nominated someone from one of those areas.
Gil Small, chairman of the Lancaster County Democrats, said, "From the state he's from, he understands a lot of the problems (here)."
Small called Richardson's stance on immigration - to increase border security and provide a path to legalization for illegal aliens - a "workable idea."
Richardson said he knows that many people who might agree with his ideas will wonder whether he can win.
"My answer is yes," he said. " Just give me a chance."