Governor Tom Vilsack will soon enter a major testing ground for presidential hopefuls — New Hampshire, the state that holds the nation’s first presidential primary. Vilsack’s spending much of today (Tuesday) in Washington, D.C. where he’ll speak at a “Take Back America” conference along with other potential presidential candidates like Hillary Clinton and John Kerry.
On Wednesday and Thursday, Vilsack will be in New Hampshire to appear at several events, including a Flag Day gala in Manchester, New Hampshire. It isn’t Vilsack’s first appearance in the Granite State. Vilsack helped New Hampshire Governor John Lynch campaign back in 2004 and Vilsack delivered a speech last Labor Day to a gathering of Democrats in Hampton Falls, New Hampshire, but Vilsack delivered it by phone.
Dan Gearino, a reporter for Lee Newspapers in Iowa, was there as the event’s host held a telephone receiver up to a microphone. “You could hear the call waiting clicking on the governor’s phone as he was being broadcast to this crowd of a lot of folks outside somebody’s home. It was this weird, kind of surreal moment,” Gearino says. “Despite all the kind of strange elements of it, the governor went over really well.”
Vilsack got a huge round of applause and people told Gearino afterwards that they were “really impressed” with what Vilsack had to say. New Hampshire’s governor and “quite a few” prominent New Hampshire Democrats were in the crowd, according to Gearino. “It was about as successful a non-event as a potential candidate could have, I guess,” Gearino says.
Vilsack canceled his flight to New Hampshire that weekend in order to oversee preparations here for the arrival of people being flown to Iowa from the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast. But a few days later, Iowa ended up getting just one plane carrying 18 evacuees.
Gearino writes for Lee Enterprises newspapers in Iowa, including the Quad City Times, the Mason City Globe-Gazette, the Muscatine Journal, the Waterloo Courier and the Sioux City Journal. Coincidentally, Gearino worked for a newspaper in southwestern New Hampshire from 2001 to 2004, but did not cover Vilsack’s appearances with John Lynch, the Democrat who was elected New Hampshire’s governor in 2004.