Governor Tom Vilsack says democrats have got to change their tune if they hope to win Congressional seats in 2006 or the presidency in 2008. Vilsack says democrats need to distance themselves from movie stars and party luminaries of the past. Vilsack says democrats are too focused on protecting Social Security and Medicare. “It’s not about protecting the legacy of Franklin Roosevelt,” Vilsack says. He contends democrats should find ways to make sure people in American have quality education, health care and economic opportunity. Vilsack says democrats have three significant “gaps” between where their party is and where the American people are. First and foremost on the list is what Vilsack terms the “security gap.” Vilsack says for the past 50 years, republicans have done a better in job in convincing people that they’ll keep them safe. “Whether it’s communism, crime, the war on drugs and now the war on terrorism,” Vilsack says. The governor says the second big problem for democrats is the so-called values gap. He says democrats are too often linked to what he calls the “Hollywood Elite” and that gives Americans the impression democrats and their friends don’t know how to solve the struggles of ordinary, everday Americans. Vilsack says the third and biggest challenge for democrats, though, is how democrats have reacted to being out of power. “Folks in Washington, D.C. may not realize that, but we don’t have the presidency, we don’t have the Congress, we don’t have the Senate, but yet we are the party that is constantly defending the status quo,” Vilsack says. “The way I look at this, if you’re out of power, you ought to be slamming the status quo. You ought to be saying how things can get better.” Democrats need to be a better job of connecting to issues that matter to people, according to Vilsack. The governor considered a bid to become his party’s national chairman but announced in late November that he wouldn’t seek the job. He sidesteps questions about whether he’ll run for president. Vilsack’s comments about the problems in the Democratic party came during his appearance on Iowa Public Television’s “Iowa Press” program.
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