Iowa Gov. a 'Long Shot' for White House

The Associated Press
Tuesday, October 10, 2006; 8:03 PM

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack concedes he's "not a glitzy guy" and is a long shot for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The two-term governor argues, however, that he has a resume and the strategy to make him competitive in what could be a wide-open race for the party's nod in 2008.

"I've never been ahead in a race," Vilsack said in an interview Monday with The Associated Press. "In '98, I was way behind and people thought it was a long shot. In 2002, we started out behind because it was a tough time to be governor. We just kept working."

Although Vilsack insisted he hasn't decided whether to seek the nomination, he sounded like a candidate in waiting.

"I think as people get to know me and get to know what I've done here in Iowa, they'll give me a strong, hard look," Vilsack said. "I'm encouraged by the response and the reaction of folks as I've traveled to New Hampshire and South Carolina. The reaction of people in New Hampshire tells me that I've got the nut or kernel of a message that resonates with people."

Vilsack has tried to raise his political profile since announcing his decision not to seek a third term. He heads the centrist-leaning Democratic Leadership Council and has traveled to 27 states to campaign for Democrats.

He has formed the Heartland Political Action Committee to raise money for other Democrats _ and his own efforts _ and recruited key fundraising, strategy and public relations staffers.

Even backers concede Vilsack faces significant hurdles, starting with skepticism in his home state where caucuses start the presidential nominating season. A poll this summer showed Vilsack fourth among potential Democratic contenders.

"I have to have some early success," Vilsack said. "Clearly a long shot has to do well in the first two, three or four primaries and caucuses."

He said his track record of grinding out victories fits well with the demand of seeking a nomination for president.

"I'm not a glitzy guy, I'm a fairly serious fellow, a serious guy," said Vilsack. "But this is a serious time."

Vilsack insists he won't decide whether to run until after the midterm election.

"I don't have the luxury that some folks have of being able to roll over resources from a Senate campaign, for example," the governor said. "I'm not independently wealthy, so I've got a lot of work to do."

© 2006 The Associated Press