First Democrat Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack To Launch 2008 White House Bid - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

11/9/06-DES MOINES, Iowa

First Democrat Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack To Launch 2008 White House Bid

 Democratic Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack is expected to officially launch his 2008 presidential campaign Thursday by filing documents with the Federal Election Commission.

His decision comes after months of speculation he would run and two days after his fellow Democrats scored overwhelming victories in state and national elections.

Vilsack is the first Democrat to make a formal declaration for the presidency although a number of better known candidates are presumed to be running.

Likewise, Rep. Duncan Hunter of California is the only announced candidate on the Republican side.

"Americans sent a clear message on Tuesday," Vilsack said in a statement obtained by The Associated Press that will be released Thursday. "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."

Vilsack said he will file documents with the FEC establishing the Tom Vilsack for President Committee. He plans a multistate tour on November 30 to formally announce his intentions.

The first stop will be in his hometown of Mount Pleasant, where he served as mayor and which he represented in the Iowa Senate before being elected governor in 1998.

Vilsack said he will also announce his candidacy in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Nevada and South Carolina. Vilsack was born in Pittsburgh, and the other states are all important early tests of strength in the nominating process.

"I couldn't be more honored that my wife, Christie, and our sons, Doug and Jess, are committed to joining my effort to offer the people of America and the Democratic Party my vision for the future of our country as a candidate for president," said Vilsack, a former head of the Democratic Governors Association. "Over the next several weeks they and the rest of my campaign team will put together the building blocks needed to run a successful national presidential campaign."

Vilsack heads the Democratic Leadership Council, a centrist group that former President Clinton used to help launch his candidacy. He has also traveled the country campaigning for Democratic gubernatorial candidates while considering a presidential run.

Vilsack said in his statement that he plans a "Gala Celebration of American Community" on December 2 in Des Moines as his initial fundraising event. He's also opening a campaign headquarters in Des Moines. Iowa's precinct caucuses traditionally launch the nominating season, and Vilsack's first test in his home state will be vital to his presidential hopes.

Vilsack became Iowa's first Democratic governor in 30 years when he won the election, pledging at the time to limit himself to two terms. He kept that promise, working to elect Democrat Chet Culver as his replacement.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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