A key republican says democrat Governor Tom Vilsack’s preoccupation with national politics is getting in the way of progress on major state issues. House Speaker Christopher Rants, a republican from Sioux City, says Vilsack’s absence from Iowa has slowed things down in the legislature.Rants says “the governor’s been busy running around the country campaigning for vice president and things like that, not necessarily being here to negotiate” with legislators. Rants says it’s “all right” for Vilsack to be out-of-state, but that means there’s no one to “sit on the other side of the negotiating table” and come up the deals that will close the books on the 2004 Legislative session. Rants says he understands that since Vilsack “can’t afford to be seen compromising with republicans” because he’s writing the Democratic Party’s platform or serving as chairman of the Democratic Governors Association or running for vice president. But Rants says here at the Iowa statehouse, politicians are supposed to sit down and iron out their differences. During a morning meeting with statehouse reporters, Vilsack dismissed questions about his vice presidential aspirations.Vilsack told reporters he would not answer questions about whether he’s be presumed democratic presidential candidate John Kerry’s running mate. Vilsack says it’s not a choice that’s his to make and he’s not spending a lot of time thinking about it. Just yesterday, Vilsack was out-of-state, campaigning on Kerry’s behalf.
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