Governor Tom Vilsack had a sit-down meeting late last month with a group of key supporters to outline his plans to run for president. Vilsack also has begun in public speeches to make the case that he’s ready to move on and move up. Vilsack’s speech last month to the Iowa Democratic Party’s state convention began with this tip of the hat to the delegates. “I consider each of you a family member. I owe each of you a debt of gratitude for giving me an extraordinary opportunity, an opportunity of a lifetime, an opportunity that somebody who started out life as an orphan could never have dreamt having,” Vilsack said. “Let me begin today by thanking you from the bottom of my heart for all that you have done for me.” Those people he thanked are the folks who’ll help organize the 2008 Iowa Caucuses when Vilsack will likely be running for president, and hoping to win first place from the home crowd. Vilsack then used his speech to lay out some of the milestones in his nearly eight-year ride as governor and in a rare moment of self-depricating humor recalled that some joked when Vilsack first ran for governor in 1998 that few knew who he was and confused his last name with Vlasic — the popular brand name for 80 different pickled products. Vilsack then launched into a list of promises he’d made. “We made a promise that we would hold our children up…to make sure that our schools had great teachers, to continue to support higher education,” Vilsack said. “While there were some bumps along the road, we made that promise and I’m here today to say we kept that promise to the children of our state.” Vilsack also claimed accomplishments in improving the quality of Iowa’s air and water. “We made that promise and we have kept that promise,” he repeated. Iowa’s economic record during the Vilsack years as governor will be fodder for potential foes on the presidential campaign trail and during his speech to Iowa Democrats last month, Vilsack offered his own assessment of that record. “We worked extraordinarily hard to ensure that state government support for job creation in this state didn’t lead, as it used to…to jobs had very little in the way of wages or benefits,” Vilsack said. “We now today have a record number of employed Iowans and every dollar that’s invested by state government to produce and to help create jobs is producing a job that that pays around $20 an hour with full benefits and I’m proud of that.” Vilsack also touted Iowa’s energy gains during his tenure as the state now leads the country in ethanol and wind energy production. “We have changed the landscape of our great state,” Vilsack said. “We have built a solid foundation.” Vilsack’s communications director also pointed out that Vilsack strode onto the stage at the state convention as a song titled “Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet” played. It’s a title that more than hints at Vilsack’s aspirations to use the foundation he built in Iowa as governor to run for national office.
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