Governor Tom Vilsack leaves New Hampshire this (Thursday) afternoon after a three-day, campaign-style trip through the state that hosts the nation’s first presidential primary.
Governor Vilsack sat down for a brief interview with Radio Iowa late Wednesday in New Hampshire. With Kiki McLean — his Washington, D-C-based aide who’s worked on the Gephardt, Clinton, Gore and Kerry campaigns sitting in the room — Vilsack began by downplaying the reason for the trip. “This is an opportunity for me to listen and to learn. Folks have been asking me to come out here and I was happy to do it,” Vilsack said. “I’m proud of the work we?ve done in Iowa.”
According to the governor, he’s fielded “tough questions” from New Hampshire crowds on subjects ranging from energy policy to nuclear proliferation. “After seven and a half years, the senior Democratic governor in the country, I’ve got some things to say and people are anxious to listen,” Vilsack said. “I’m going to keep talking as long as (they’re) listening.”
Vilsack has done many of the things presidential candidates do in New Hampshire, but with a Des Moines Register poll of likely 2008 Iowa Caucus goers showing Vilsack in fourth place, Vilsack concedes his next conversation about his presidential aspirations will have to be with Iowans. “You have to express it. You have to express it even to people who that know you, you know and you know, if we do this, we’re going to have to do it with Iowans, not just people in New Hampshire. It’s going to have to be done with Iowans. They’re going to have to know,” Vilsack said.
“They see me as a governor and they should. That’s what I’ve been for the last seven-and-a-half years and that’s what I’ll continue to be for the next half-a-year and they know some of my personal story and they know quite a bit of it. They know my values system. They know how I’ve governed but they may not know what the vision is for the country.”
Vilsack believes he has to lay out three points to every audience to convince them he’s a legitimate candidate. First, Vilsack said people have to get to know you as a person. Secondly, a candidate must prove they can things done and third, the candidate must present a compelling vision. If you offer those three components “then people are going to pay attention,” according to Vilsack.
“If you don’t have that, then they won’t. Vilsack said until he spends the time and resources convincing Iowans he is presidential material he’ll continue to finish behind other prospects in public opinion polls in his home state. “I don’t know why anybody expected that (poll) to be any different than it was,” Vilsack said. “I haven’t spent millions of dollars. I haven’t asked anybody for a vote. I haven’t even told them I’m running for president.”