I saw him this morning in an interview on ABC. Nothing spectacular, but straight forward midwestern style of speaking, which I think makes him stronger. After sixteen years of either Slick Willie glitz or over the top "Bush cowboy" style of speaking, I think a straight forward Midwesterner or Mountain State Westerner has an advantage.
From the Boston Globe
MOUNT PLEASANT, Iowa -- Governor Tom Vilsack announced his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination yesterday, positioning himself as a Washington outsider with Heartland appeal.
Vilsack emphasized the nexus between oil dependence, national security, and the economy, saying he would give high priority to weaning the nation off foreign oil and promoting alternative energy sources.
"Energy security will revitalize rural America," Vilsack told the more than 500 cheering backers in the small town where be began his political career, as mayor. "Energy security will allow us once and for all to remove and reduce our dependency on foreign oil from foreign countries that do not like us."
I'm not going to count this guy out for a few reasons. First off, governors win elections. Senators haven't won since Nixon. Sitting senators haven't won since Kennedy. Much of that is due to the always enduring popularity (or lack of) of Washington. Iowa is also a key swing state in the elections narrowing going for Bush and Gore. Nothing comes easy there, and Vilsack has been an underdog in every or almost every race he's been in. A rural candidate would be tough to beat. The GOP lost a lot of ground in rural America during the last election after winning big here thanks to people like Kerry, Gore, Feinstein, Schumer, and Hillary being the face of the party.
Lastly, Iowa has always been known for ethanol. With our current situation on energy, Vilsack could bring some strong credibility on energy if it is framed right. I encourage Republican Leaders to go out and take this issue away from all of the democrats. If it does not happen, it will make things much harder in 2008, especially against someone like Vilsack who is a Washington outsider.
Of the names mentioned or rumored- Vilsack, Richardson, Edwards, Kerry, Clinton, Obama, Mike Gravel, and Biden - I think Vilsack is the 2nd best shot to win with Bill Richardson as their strongest choice. (outside Mark Warner who said he's not in)