Governor Tom Vilsack says he’s going to start talking with Iowans about his presidential aspirations. So when will Vilsack make a formal declaration of his intentions to seek the White House?
Vilsack made his first exploratory trip to New Hampshire this week, and during an interview with Radio Iowa he dodged a question about the kitchen table conversation he’ll have with his wife and two sons about running for president. Vilsack said he’s focused on the 2006 election right now. “You know, following that election we’ll have some discussions about what’s next,” Vilsack said.
Vilsack’s most trusted advisor is Christie, his wife, and Vilsack spoke of the depth of his respect for her political acumen during a speech in New Hampshire this week. “I’m privileged to be married to Christie,” Vilsack said. “I will tell you I’ve always feared being ‘primaried’ by her in my state. I’m pretty sure I’d lose.”
When the Vilsacks tell the story of how they met, they say their first conversation was about politics. Christie Vilsack was just as engaged in meeting and making connections with New Hampshire voters as her husband was this past week. “I know the issues, so I’m happy to talk about the issues but I’m also here to help tell some of the stories about my husband, tell stories of Iowa so that they get a sense of how our states are similar and how we do politics the same way,” Mrs. Vilsack said. “I’m a storyteller, so I guess I’m here to tell the Iowa story and also tell the Tom Vilsack story and my story as well because it’s a partnership and we’ve been doing this for a long time.”
Mrs. Vilsack laughed when reminded that her husband had revealed his fear of her as a political opponent, but then she quickly launched into the hard sell for her husband. “I wish I had his ability to take what he feels in his heart and let it bubble up and kind of sift through policy and become policy and passion all mixed together,” Mrs. Vilsack said, as she laid her own hand over her heart. “I know I’m prejudiced, but I think he’s got a special gift and I think the people of New Hampshire saw a little bit of it.”
She said there’s been an on-going “family conversation” about politics, so sitting down to make “the decision” about a White House run won’t be that big a stretch. “Our family dinner table conversation is really the keystone for our family,” Mrs. Vilsack said. “I think we’ve been having that conversation for a long time. I don’t think it’s any one conversation that you have and, of course, our children are now 25 and 28 years old and they’ve been involved in this since they were seven and 10, I think.” That’s how old the two Vilsack boys were when their dad ran for Mayor of Mount Pleasant.
Jess Vilsack is an assistant Polk County Attorney and Doug is in Namibia working as an environmental lawyer right now, but their mother says they’ll be part of making that White House decision. “It’s a hard decision,” she said. “It won’t be made lightly and it certainly will be made in the context of our family, our very big family in Iowa which is not only Democrats but a lot of other people, too, who’ve been really supportive over the years.”