From NBC affiliate WHO-TV's Dave Price and Elizabeth Wilner
Des Moines -- Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack (D) told a select group of friends and supporters that he's running for president via a conference call at 7:00 am. "This is not an exploratory process," he said. "We're jumping in with both feet." Filing the paperwork with the FEC today will make him the first official major candidate to run for the nation's top job. It also allows him to legally begin raising money for a bid. Until now, he has been raising money for the Heartland PAC, his political action committee dedicated to getting Democrats elected to office. But federal law prohibits him from using any of that money for a presidential run.
Vilsack acknowledged to supporters this morning that some people may doubt whether he has a chance to win the election. But, he said, people doubted he could win Iowa's race for governor, too, back in 1998. "I'm a proven winner." This decision to run in 2008 comes after a big election night for Vilsack's party: Iowa Democrats took the governors' mansion and the state House and Senate, plus three congressional seats. Those wins could greatly enhance the Governor's credibility nationally and give him some much-needed attention.
Vilsack will officially make the announcement that he is running for president on November 30 in a series of places including his wife's hometown of Mt. Pleasant. He also plans stops in early presidential nominating states, and in Pittsburgh, PA, where he grew up.
In terms of how he fits into the Democratic pack, Vilsack is a centrist and chair of the Democratic Leadership Council, as well as one of the few who can claim gubernatorial credentials. For these reasons, his aides were encouraged by former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner's announcement that he won't seek the party's presidential nod.