Former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack, who was the first Democrat to announce his candidacy for president in 2008 but has found it difficult to raise the money needed to compete against his better-known rivals, will quit the race today, according to several campaign officials.ETA: Governor Vilsack sent this message out to his mailing list:
Vilsack's abrupt decision underscored the financial challenges facing lesser-known candidates as they try to compete for contributions against New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama and highlighted how the intense start to the 2008 campaign has dramatically escalated the cost of running even in the opening months of competition.
"This is a nomination process on steroids," said a Vilsack adviser, who asked not to be identified in order to let the former governor speak publicly about the decision to quit the race. "It started earlier than anybody expected and it's requiring more money than ever before."
The adviser said the former governor would not endorse any of the other candidates today but would not rule out an endorsement later. His decision to quit the race will intensify the competition in Iowa, whose precinct caucuses are scheduled to start the nomination process next Jan. 14.
I am very fortunate -- blessed in love, family, friends, job, and by this campaign.
I have the boldest plan to get us out of Iraq and a long-term policy for energy security to keep us out of future oil wars. Our campaign has built the strongest organization here in Iowa, with almost 3,000 supporters among Democratic caucus goers. We are organizationally positioned to win the caucuses in January 2008. We have everything to win the nomination and general election.
Everything except money.
That is why this morning after discussing with my wife Christie and our sons Jess and Doug we have decided to end our campaign for the presidency.
Thousands of you have given so generously of your time, energy and money. And together, we've built a campaign that has stood up and taken courageous stands on the issues that our country must face. In just the past few weeks, we've shaped the debate on the Iraq War and laid out an aggressive plan to achieve energy independence and security.
I firmly believe that our leadership on these issues -- the defining issues of our time -- will be recognized for years to come.
In recent weeks, just as our message has begun to resonate with voters and pundits alike, our fundraising has suffered. The fact is, each hour I spend with voters, press and policy experts is an hour taken away from our campaign paying bills.
More than any other race in history, this presidential campaign will require candidates to commit more time, energy and influence raising money than developing ideas. I worry that this process, involving hundreds of millions of dollars, holds our democracy hostage to insiders, influence and establishment when we are so in need of just the opposite.
But this is a fact I cannot change with this campaign.
I am leaving one campaign, but I am not saying goodbye. I will continue to fight for outsiders and underdogs who are the backbone of the Democratic Party and our country. Our work is far from over. Because here in Iowa where the first caucus will be held in less than 11 months and all across this great country, voters are longing for bold leadership, big ideas and courage from our elected officials.
We want the war to end -- today.
We want a real plan to provide universal access to healthcare -- today.
And we want policies to keep us secure and environmentally sound by ending our addiction to oil, both foreign and domestic.
Again, thank you for everything you've done. It has been an inspiring few months and I know that, with your continued support, our work is not over.
With great appreciation,