Thursday, November 09, 2006

2008: Tom Vilsack for President

This is not an endorsement by any means. Outgoing Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack has announced that he will be filing papers to setup a presidential campaign committee.
The Iowa governor plans to formally launch his bid for the 2008 Democratic nomination today, one of his top political aides said Wednesday.

Vilsack, who leaves office in January, will file papers today to establish his presidential campaign committee, aides said. The step marks the first official move by any politician among the large field of Democrats and Republicans weighing campaigns for president.

The two-term governor plans to announce his candidacy in his hometown of Mount Pleasant on Nov. 30, before setting off on a campaign swing to early nominating states.

The move signals to Iowa Democrats, on whom his bid will depend, and national donors that Vilsack, one of the least-known among his party's presidential prospects, is committed to running for president.

"He's obviously been thinking very seriously about this for some time, and people have been encouraging him to do it," said Jeff Link, a top political aide to Vilsack.

The decision to launch a White House campaign comes on the heels of a Democratic avalanche in Iowa on Tuesday. The party held the governorship and seized control of both houses of the Legislature, a trifecta not achieved in Iowa in four decades.[...]

Vilsack has said privately his is the tallest hill to climb of his prospective rivals for the nomination. Others have a more proven national record of raising money and greater name recognition.

Timing his announcement to the Democrats' gains this week will show national donors that Vilsack can take credit for victories, a key asset when soliciting contributions, Texas A&M University political science professor George Edwards said.

Estimates for what it will take for a candidate to compete through the early primaries and caucuses in 2008 begin at about $20 million and go much higher.

By seizing on Tuesday's results, Vilsack also reminds party activists of his efforts to build the party in the lead-off caucus state, Edwards said.

Vilsack campaigned for Gov.-elect Chet Culver and contributed roughly $500,000 from his organization Heartland PAC to his race and dozens of Statehouse campaigns.[...]

Vilsack, 55, is the former mayor of Mount Pleasant and served two terms in the Iowa Senate. He was elected governor in 1998, the first Democrat in more than 30 years.

Vilsack was a finalist to be presidential nominee John Kerry's running mate in 2004 and last year took over chairmanship of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council, a position once held by then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton.
Interesting development.

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