'Michigan Matters' ExclusiveBy Carol Cain

Former Detroit Pistons star Dennis Rodman may have been the man on the basketball court, but in the court of diplomacy – he gets an “F” from former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson.

Richardson, former governor of New Mexico, is involved in global diplomatic efforts including helping free Americans wrongly held in other countries.

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He talked about an American tour operator name named Kennth Bae who is now jailed in North Korea.

Bae, 45, a devout Christian, was arrested in November 2012 and later sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for allegedly importing “inflammatory” material.

“I tried to meet with the (Korean) president but the only American he met with is Dennis,” said Richardson during taping of “Michigan Matters.”

Richardson was in North Korea trying to gain Bae’s release while Rodman was in North Korea in January.

“I tried to connect with him (Rodman) but he didn’t call back,” said Richardson who added he could have double teamed with Rodman in the effort.

He has vast diplomatic experience and is chairman of APCO Worldwide’s executive advisory service Global Political Strategies and special envoy for the Organization of American States Rodman has become something of a lightning rod after he visited North Korea last February and befriended the country’s dictator president, Kim Jong Un.

In January, Rodman returned to the nation known for its human rights violations, and organized a basketball game in Pyongyang made up of various former NBA players.

Affectionately known as “the worm” during his playing days, Rodman, who checked himself in rehab for alcohol issues after his trip to North Korea, tweeted Kim at the time asking him to free Bae. But it fell on deaf ears.

Richardson was in Michigan along with former Minnesota Gov.Tim Pawlenty to address the Michigan Political Leadership Program’s events on Thursday and Friday.

They also appeared together on “Michigan Matters” and talked about topics including the 2016 presidential race.

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Richardson and Pawlenty — who each ran for president (Richardson as a Democrat in 2008; Pawlenty as a Republican in 2012) — said they won’t be among those vying for the White House in 2016.

“Hillary (Rodham Clinton) is the front-runner right now,” Richardson said on the Democratic side of the aisle.

Pawlenty, CEO of Financial Services Roundtable, said it’s time for new blood atop the GOP presidential ticket.

Among names he mentioned as people to consider: Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder.

“I’m not sure he’s even interested, but he has the kind of track record that would make him appealing, “Pawlenty added.

(L-R) Lon Johnson, Gov. Bill Richardson, host Carol Cain, Bobby Schostak and Gov., Tim Pawlenty taping "Michigan Matters" to discuss a little politics (credit: Tony Chiudioni/CBS 62)

(L-R) Lon Johnson, Gov. Bill Richardson, host Carol Cain, Bobby Schostak and Gov., Tim Pawlenty taping “Michigan Matters” to discuss a little politics (credit: Tony Chiudioni/CBS 62)

Michigan Republican Party Chairman Bobby Schostak and Democratic Party Chairman Lon Johnson also appeared on “Michigan Matters.”

The duo sparred over the gubernatorial contest between Gov. Rick Snyder and Democratic challenger Mark Schauer as well as the U.S. Senate race which pits Democratic Cong. Gary Peters against former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land for the seat being vacated by Carl Levin.

In other issues, Schostak reiterated his plea to Dave Agema, the Republican National Committeeman from Michigan who has made insensitive remarks about gays and Muslims, to resign.

“We can’t do anything (to remove him) by law,” Schostak said.

Watch “Michigan Matters” 11:30 a.m. Sunday on CBS 62.

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Carol Cain is the Emmy winning  Senior Producer/Host of “Michigan Matters.” She also writes of business and politics in Sunday’s Detroit Free Press. She can be reached at clcain@cbs.com