Vilsack says he couldn’t compete in money game

I drove down to Winterset this past Monday afternoon to catch Tom Vilsack in campaign mode.  A group of about 65 people gathered in a conference room at the Winterset Public Library to hear Vilsack.  What struck me as odd about the event was the Vilsack entourage.  In addition to the regular campaign staffers who set up the chairs, get people to sign in, and takes notes of the questions asked, there were a number of Vilsack "insiders" there.  Not only was Vilsack’s wife, Christie, there — she delivered the introduction — but so was his oldest son, Jess.  Dusky Terry, a top campaign staffer, was there, too — with his wife and kids.  In retrospect, it looks like they were all there to support the candidate at the center of a soon-to-fold campaign.

I had started hearing the "rumor" that Vilsack was to going to drop out of the race last weekend, but of course got no official confirmation.  On last weekend’s Iowa Press program on Iowa Public Television, the consensus fromt he reporters around the table (DM Register’s David Yepsen, Todd Dorman of the Lee Newspapers in Iowa, Jeneane Beck of Iowa Public Radio and me) was that Vilsack would drop out soon — we just didn’t’predict it would be this soon.

You can listen to Vilsack’s announcement from this morning here. 

In case you want to "read the tea leaves" and determine which former rival for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination may pick up Vilsack’s endorsement, I have cut-and-pasted below the statements being issued by Vilsack’s friends and foes.  Included in the mix is a statement from Senator Tom Harkin (who endorsed Vilsack) and Senator John Kerry (who Christie Vilsack endorsed right before the 2004 Iowa Caucuses and Tom Vilsack endorsed for president in February, 2004).

Statement of Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA):

“Today, I learned with great disappointment that my friend Tom Vilsack has decided to end his candidacy for President of the United States.  There’s no question in my mind that Tom is a great leader, something he’s proven as Iowa’s two-term governor and as a successful state legislator and mayor.

“The highest accolade I can give, though, is simply that Tom is a good and decent person.  He is a model husband and father, and a loyal friend.  And he has a genuine passion for fairness and social justice.  It’s a message I’ve heard again and again from voters across the country.

“With Tom’s strength and character, he would have made an exceptional President. That’s why when I spoke with him today, I urged him to continue his leadership for Iowa and the nation.  This is certainly not the last we’ve seen of Tom Vilsack.”

Following is a statement released today by Senator Hillary Clinton:

“I have been proud to work with Tom Vilsack for years on the challenges facing our country, and I have a deep admiration for both Tom and Christie.

“Tom has made Iowa a leader in renewable energy and created thousands of jobs as one of America’s great governors. We share a passion for protecting America’s young people through expanded health care options, early childhood education initiatives and opening the doors to higher education to every American.

“I know he will continue to contribute to the dialogue about how to move America forward.”


DES MOINES – U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) today released the following statement on former Governor Tom Vilsack’s announcement:

"Tom Vilsack is an outstanding public servant whose initiatives in Iowa on education reform, health care and alternative energy are models from which our entire nation can learn. More than that, Tom brings a badly needed sense of honor and decency to our politics, and a passionate advocacy for an end to the war in Iraq.  I hope he will continue to speak out in the months and years to come, as his is an important and valued voice."


Chapel Hill, North Carolina – Senator John Edwards released the following statement today about the announcement by Governor Tom Vilsack that he will no longer seek the Democratic nomination for President in 2008.

“Tom Vilsack is a terrific human being and one of the genuine treasures of our Party, so it is our loss more than his that he has chosen to end his campaign for president. His record as a leader on critical issues including education, health care, and energy independence makes one thing very clear: Tom has never forgotten where he came from or the people he serves.  He is a powerful voice for the people of Iowa and America, and I am proud to call him a friend. Elizabeth and I wish Tom, Christie and their entire family the very best life can offer and look forward to working with them in the years ahead to build a country that lives up to its great promise.”

Senator John Kerry on Tom Vilsack’s Announcement

Below is a statement by Senator John Kerry on today’s announcement by Tom Vilsack:

“Tom and Christie should be very proud of the contribution they’ve made and will continue to make to the national debate and to the Democratic Party. From day one Tom ran a campaign that helped put Iraq and energy independence front and center. It’s no surprise that Tom emerged early as a powerful ‘ideas candidate’, which is exactly what he did as a governor leading on big ideas and pushing the curve of innovation. They’re great leaders, great activists, and great friends. Teresa and I congratulate Tom and his family, and know he will continue to fight for big ideas that work for all Americans, in 2008 and in the years to come.”

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson Statement on Former Governor Tom Vilsack’s Decision to Withdraw From Democratic Presidential Race

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson today issued the following statement regarding former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack’s announcement that he is withdrawing from the race for the 2008 Democratic Presidential Nomination:

“While I respect and understand Tom’s decision, he will be missed from the campaign. He is a good friend, and a man of integrity and tremendous ability.  As Governor, Tom accomplished a great deal for the people of Iowa.  He was a leader among Governors as a former Chair of the Democratic Governor’s Association, and I know that he will continue to be a strong force in the national Democratic Party.”

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.