The top Democrat in the Iowa Senate says it’s too early to back any potential presidential candidate, even Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack. Senate Co-Leader Mike Gronstal, a Democrat from Council Bluffs, says 2008 is a long way away. “I’ve made no commitments to anybody at this time,” Gronstal says. “I’m going to wait to see what the lay of the land looks like.”
Gronstal says “everybody” has a chance in Iowa’s next Caucuses. “Iowa’s a state that doesn’t make snap judgments on candidates,” Gronstal says. He cites the 2004 Iowa Caucuses which saw perceived front-runner Howard Dean finish third.
Gronstal dismisses the idea a Vilsack candidacy would impact Iowa’s Caucuses the same way native-son Tom Harkin’s run for the White House did in 1992. “If you look back to 1992, most of the presidential candidates afterwards indicated they thought it was a mistake to skip Iowa,” Gronstal says. “I don’t think you’ll see presidential candidates skip Iowa if, in fact, we have a favorite son (who) runs.”
Former Virginia Governor Mark Warner was in Iowa Thursday to meet privately with Gronstal and a few other Democrats, then Warner headlined a fundraiser for Congressman Leonard Boswell. Warner, a potential presidential candidate, says he can’t comment now on how a Vilsack campaign might impact his own decision about running in Iowa’s 2008 Caucuses.
Warner says if Vilsack decides to run, he’ll be a “powerful force” in the party. Warner says, though, that Democrats should focus on the 2006 election and remind voters that Republicans have mismanaged the nation’s finances. “We need to point out not only this administration’s failures, but how we would right the ship,” Warner says.
The former Virginia governor says his state had an “honest” debate about finances while he was its chief executive. Iowa Republicans, meanwhile, yesterday attacked Warner for raising taxes while he was governor. Warner, a graduate of Harvard Law School, is a multi-millionaire who co-founded Nextel, a cellular company.