First Hat Officially in the Ring: Vilsack’s

The 2008 presidential campaign officially kicked off on Thursday with Tom Vilsack, outgoing governor of Iowa, announcing his plan to seek the Democratic nomination.

Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack (D) launched his campaign for president here Thursday with a jab at President Bush’s leadership, a warning that America’s way of life is threatened, and a pledge to overcome the country’s challenges with big ideas on energy, education, the economy and health care.

“America needs a president who builds and creates, who makes our country more secure, who is bold and has the courage to create change,” Vilsack told a crowd in his adopted hometown. “I will be that president.”

Expect this announcement to be the first of many:

Vilsack is the first official candidate for president in 2008, but his announcement comes at a time of accelerating activity among a large cast of characters in what will be one of the most wide-open campaigns in modern history.

Outgoing Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) announced additions to his staff this week as he continues aggressive preparations for a likely run for his party’s nomination.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) set up a presidential exploratory committee last month and delivered a pair of speeches to conservatives outlining his vision for rebuilding a fractured Republican Party. Both he and Romney were in Miami on Thursday courting Republican governors.

Former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani (R) has also established an exploratory committee.

Among Democrats, [Sen. Barack] Obama has been seeking advice in advance of his decision, which aides have said will not come before the end of the year. He has had conversations with prominent Iowa Democrats, and he plans a trip to New Hampshire on Dec. 10. Clinton is quietly weighing her options, and Democrats say her advisers are closely monitoring the groundswell around Obama.

Vilsack did not have his state to himself as he launched his candidacy. On Wednesday, former senator John Edwards (D-N.C.) drew a big crowd at a book signing in Des Moines. Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) will be in Iowa on Monday — it will be his 12th such visit to the state, which will hold the first presidential caucuses in 2008.

Only 704 shopping days left until Election Day 2008!

See also: Steven Taylor.

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Chris Lawrence
About Chris Lawrence
Chris teaches political science at Middle Georgia State University in Macon, Georgia. He has a Ph.D. in political science (with concentrations in American politics and political methodology) from the University of Mississippi. He began writing for OTB in June 2006. Follow him on Twitter @lordsutch.


  1. Anderson says:

    Can anyone whose name sounds like the henchman of a sword-&-sorcery B-movie’s villain, *really* be elected president?

    Time will tell.

  2. I always have wondered whether he gets a lot of people asking whether he has inherited the Vlasic pickle fortune.

    It is an unfortunate surname… but then again he got elected to statewide office with it, so it can’t be that bad.

  3. Eneils Bailey says:

    WoooWhooo…, Thanks CL for clearing up my misconception that Vilsack had some connection to “Big Pickle.”
    Now I can vote for him without fearing he will try to manipulate the price of a jar of pickles for political gain. There will also be no threat of “War for Pickles” if he is elected.
    Seriously, having been out of the news cycle for a week, do you think he is just trying to help queer up HRC’s chances for coming off big in Iowa and gaining out-of-the-gate momentum. Does anyone see her star power in the democrat party slipping?
    Heard HRC has not been seen in a couple of weeks. Commentators have said she’s not going to compete for news till the democrat takeover news of Congress runs its course. Some have speculated she may be undergoing a Pelosi type make-over to improve her physical image. Maybe a little re-virgining work could be done also.