Thursday, November 30, 2006

Vilsack announces for President

Tom Vilsack (D - Iowa) has officially declared himself a candidate for President of the United States.

Vilsack was introduced first by Ruth Harkin, wife of Senator Tom Harkin (D - Iowa). Mrs. Harkin emphasized Vilsack's record on education and renewable fuels (ethanol is based on the corn that is a bulwark of Iowa's economy), and his success in coming from behind in 1998 to defeat a well-known competitor.

Next up was Vilsack's Lieutenant Governor (and recent Iowa Democratic Party Chair) Sally Pederson, whom Mrs. Harkin credited with the election of Democratic officials to Congress and Constitutional Offices, amongst others. Calling her work beside Vilsack an honor and priviledge, Pederson said that Vilsack brought bold change in Iowa, expanding industry and employment in renewable fuels, expanding health care coverage, and improving test scores in the schools.

Then, rather oddly, the stage was cleared while the Mt. Pleasant, Iowa High School band played a respectable version - if that can be said of any rendition of this tune - of "Louie, Louie" (was U.S. Senator Blutarski from Iowa?), and some other tunes. Finally, an off-stage emceee announced Vilsack and his wife and two sons. Christie Vilsack went to the podium and provided the personal backstory before Gov. Vilsack stepped to the podium himself.

Saying that the electoral victory earlier in the month is just the beginning, Vilsack said he is running to challenge us all to bring innovation and bold change to the country. But first, he said, we must face reality. Citing terror, crime, and a national security policy that has weakened the country, Vilsack said the country is less safe than we were six years ago.

He emphasized the transition from agriculture to energy production that Iowa undertook, and credited the air quality in Iowa with it. He talked about the steps taken to improve education performance in the state. And he highlighted the state's success in reducing the ranks of those lacking health insurance.

Vilsack's pitch sounded notes that were reminiscent of Clinton and Kennedy, and called for a substantive debate about the problems the country faces especially the kinds of change that build a competitive national economy for the twenty-first century (emphasizing again and again the need to move away from our dependence on foreign oil).

On Iraq, he said "We must act and act now. We must take our troops out of harms way" and turn the responsibility over to the Iraqis.

Standard fare. He won't be the darling of the left. First to announce, Vilsack enjoys an obvious advantage in the first in the nation Iowa caucuses, which should result in a diminution of the significance of winning the caucuses, unless Vilsack somehow manages to lose (he won't). Iowa will now be about who comes in second, and combined with the reshuffle in the Primary schedule, look for more resources going elsewhere earlier.


Anonymous said...

Were you at the press conference or something? I don't see a source.

Chris MC said...

Watched it live on CSPAN.

Anonymous said...

Another guy with no shot.

Anonymous said...

He's a stalking horse for Ms. Hillary.

Matt said...

What's most interesting to me about Vilsack's entrance is how it changes the primary calendar... previously, the first several Democratic caucuses and primaries were scheduled a week before the parallel Republican ones, allowing the Republican elections to serve as a "reaction" to the Democratic selection. Now, they are on much more equal footing.

Though Vilsack leaves a lot to be desired, he's at least performing a valuable service for the party.

Anonymous said...

No offense Matt, but you have absolutely no clue if you think that Republican Presidential primary voters are going to choose their candidate as a "reaction" to the Democrats choice.

Anonymous said...

Vilsack has potential to emerge here as a viable candidate. First of all he's not from the northeast (a huge bonus in a national election). He is also a centrist along the lines of Bill Clinton (Vilsack is a fellow DLC'er).

No one thought Clinton had a chance after he announced early in the campaign cycle considering that he was an obscure governor of a small southern state. Alot will depend on Vilsack's "charm" factor since this seems to be ever important these days, more so than the issues themselves. Admittedly, I don't know what he's like as a campaigner, but for what it's worth, I like Vilsack. He's the type of Democrat I could vote for.

Matt said...

Wow, burned by Anonymous 2:15. "You have absolutely no clue," he/she says. Oh snap!

Republicans absolutely would, when polling is in the mix. Republicans react. It's part and parcel in being reactionary. It's why they pick gay-bashing wingnuts to challenge Andrew McDonald, and why they picked Schlesinger to run against the supposedly invincible Lieberman. If those seats were open, or if the GOP had known that it would face a 3-way race in CT-Sen, it would have done something different.

If the Democrats picked Vilsack before the GOP conducted their primaries, they'd pick someone who thought could best beat Vilsack, simple as that. Same with Clinton, or Biden, or whoever. And if you think that Republicans are too "principled" to act that way, you are the one fooling yourself. Whoever you are.

Anonymous said...

I think Vilsack has a shot. He is one of only two potential gubernatorial candidates (Richardson being the other). Governors tend to do well in presidential primaries. Granted Barack and Hillary are getting all the attention these days but presidential primaries are all about beating expectations and it will be tough for them to live up to the standards that have been set for them. All of the polls that are out now are name id polls. Vilsack will gain a lot of recognition after the Iowa caucuses.

Anonymous said...

How old are you Matt, like 20? Please refer to those political science books you read in college and research the past half-century and tell me when the Republican party chose a candidate for President as a reaction to Democrat results in early primaries.

Actually, let me save you some time: the answer is NEVER.

AB said...

Here are some obvious facts. Running for the Presidency from the Senate historically has been a failure. Second, Hillary does not appeal to independents, or the far left, both of whom woudl be needed to gain her the Presidency. In general, I dont believe, and polls seem to prove this out....voters are not interested in left wingers or right wingers. This notion that is floating that Al Gore can run and or win is absurd. The idea that Obama can run and win is far fetched. He is a media darling with no real history. Americans historically elect Governors and former Governors because they tend to be seen as responsible, respectible and non partisan. why non partisan, because a Governor rarely appears on national TV trashing his opponents or the other party.

with regard to 2008, the best candidates are Governors. Vilsack is a very viable candidate with a history as a successful Governor. The same is true for Republican Governor from Arkansas Mike Huckabee. To a point made earlier, no one knew Bill Clinton from a hole in the wall in 1992. SO if you think that a Governor from Iowa or Arkansas cant win the nomination away from Hillary, or Barack or McCain, your sadly mistaken.