Iowa Gov. Vilsack Running for President

The Associated Press
Friday, November 10, 2006; 8:07 AM

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, a centrist Democrat seeking an early edge in an all-but-certain crowded presidential field, launched a long-shot bid for the White House Thursday.

Fifteen months before his own state holds caucuses _ the first step in the nominating process _ Vilsack announced his candidacy, filed documents with the Federal Election Commission and heralded a multistate tour beginning Nov. 30.

The governor is the first Democrat to file for the presidency although a number of better known candidates are presumed to be running.

"Americans sent a clear message on Tuesday. They want leaders who will take this country in a new direction," he said in a statement. "They want leaders who share their values, understand their needs, and respect their intelligence. That's what I've done as governor of Iowa, and that's what I intend to do as president."

Overshadowing the announcement is the upheaval in Washington as Democrats captured control of the House and Senate in Tuesday's elections. But Vilsack, a little-known Midwest governor, needs all the attention he can get _ and the first infusion of campaign cash.

Vilsack said he plans a "Gala Celebration of American Community" on Dec. 2 in Des Moines as his initial fundraising event.

In polls, Vilsack has trailed the other potential candidates, among them front-runner New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and 2004 vice presidential nominee John Edwards. Earlier this year, the governor even was behind in a survey of Iowans.

"He's the least known of the prospective presidential candidates and he comes from the smallest state, where he will have to do very well," said former aide Ron Parker.

In an Associated Press-AOL News poll conducted in late October, Vilsack didn't receive any mentions when respondents were asked who they would most like to see elected president in 2008.

Vilsack will begin his tour in his hometown of Mount Pleasant, Iowa, and will make stops in New Hampshire, Nevada, Pennsylvania and South Carolina. Vilsack was born in Pittsburgh, and the other states hold key early tests in the nomination process.

He said he will also announce his candidacy in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Nevada and South Carolina.

Vilsack is chairman of the centrist-leaning Democratic Leadership Council and a former chairman of the Democratic Governors Association. This year, he had made campaign trips to South Carolina and New Hampshire, but also spent the closing weeks of the campaign in his home state helping Democrat Chet Culver win the governorship.

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