Former South Dakota Senator Tom Daschle has re-entered Iowa’s political scene to endorse one of the Democrats who’s running for governor. Daschle, who was the Democratic Leader in the U.S. Senate until he lost his reelection bid in 2004, has endorsed Chet Culver’s bid to become Iowa’s next governor. Daschle called Iowa “the epicenter” of national politics. “It’s the epicenter in part, of course, because you have so much say in the direction that this country takes with regard to its national leadership every four years,” Daschle said, referring to Iowa’s Caucuses which are the kick-off event of presidential campaigns.
“Iowa has a capacity to produce a new generation of leaders…and I will tell you…that Chet Culver is one of those new leaders,” Daschle says. Daschle, who has known the Culver family for years because Culver’s father was a U.S. Senator, says the younger Culver is a role model for kids because he was a coach and teacher, then entered “public service” when he became Secretary of State seven years ago.
Daschle says Culver is in the “strongest position” to become Iowa’s next governor, partly because he’s run two statewide races and won the last one overwhelmingly.
Daschle was in Iowa in November, serving as keynote speaker at the Iowa Democratic Party’s annual fall fundraiser, but Daschle denied that appearance was a signal he was laying the groundwork to run for president in 2008. He’s sticking to that line. “My answer’s the same as it was last year,” Daschle says. “I have no plans to run for president.” “It’s great to be back but there isn’t any presidential linkage here.”
Daschle says no candidate who is running for president should skip the Iowa Caucuses because Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack may himself run for president. “Iowa’s going to be a key state regardless of who else is here,” Daschle says. “It’s important that this important caucus state continue to hold the distinction that it does and I think you’re going to see a very competitive race, competitive caucus here in Iowa regardless of who else will be in it.”