Published reports suggest former Governor Tom Vilsack may be among those President Obama is considering for the role of White House chief of staff.
After Vilsack ended his own campaign for president in early 2007, he endorsed Hillary Clinton’s bid for the White House. But by mid-2008, after it was clear Barack Obama had secured enough support to win the Democratic Party’s nomination, Vilsack endorsed Obama and campaigned extensively for him. After Obama won the presidency, he asked Vilsack to serve as the nation’s ag secretary.
During a appearance last month on Iowa Public Television, Vilsack was asked what role he might play in Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign.
“We went to India together and spent some time together talking about next steps,” Vilsack said. “I think there’s a role for me to play in terms of rural America, which I’m happy to play.” Vilsack was among the contingent of U.S. officials who accompanied Obama on his November visit to India.
Vilsack has already crafted an ag-related defense of Obama’s record and he delivered it during his Iowa Public Television appearance, focusing first on farm income.
“When you look at incomes going up 31 percent; you look at exports at a record level; you look at the fact that we provided disaster relief to 250,000 farmers and we did it in a very quick way; you look at the work that’s being done in supporting commodity prices; the work that we did in the dairy industry to save that industry in the first year of the administration; the work we’re doing in food safety to be able to preserve markets; the work we’re doing in local market development; the work we’re doing in biofuels,” Vilsack said, “I mean there’s a lot to talk about and we’re happy to talk about it.”
Vilsack predicted Obama would win reelection, too. “I have no doubt about that, I think, when people step back and take a recognize the leadership he’s provided in so many areas and in very difficult political circumstances,” Vilsack said on IPTV.
There are already officials within the Obama Administration who have ties to Vilsack like Josh Earnest, communications director for Vilsack’s short-lived presidential campaign, who is the deputy White House press secretary. Earnest is among those listed as a potential successor to White House press secretary Robert Gibbs who plans to leave that post in February.
In December, Vilsack was among the administration officials who made public pitches to Democrats, urging passage of the tax cut package Obama struck with Republicans. Vilsack has also worked with on Michelle Obama’s public campaign against childhood obesity.
Vilsack was Iowa’s governor from January, 1999 through January of 2007.