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Published: Friday, 2/23/2007

Democrat Tom Vilsack quits his bid for presidency


DES MOINES, Iowa Democrat Tom Vilsack, the former Iowa governor who built a centrist image, abandoned his bid for the presidency after struggling against better-known, better-financed rivals.

It is money and only money that is the reason we are leaving today, Vilsack told reporters at a news conference.

Vilsack, 55, left office in January and traveled to early voting states, but he attracted neither the attention nor the campaign cash of his top-tier rivals Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Sen. Barack Obama and John Edwards.

In the most recent financial documents, Vilsack reported raising more than $1.1 million in the last seven weeks of 2006 but only had around $396,000 in the bank. Some campaign finance experts contend candidates will need $20 million by June 2007 to remain viable.

Some may suggest that this has been a failed enterprise I would say it has not been a failed enterprise. I ve grown as a person, grown in fondness and appreciation of this country, he said.

Vilsack s withdrawal still leaves a crowded field of eight Democrats. He will remain an important figure in the presidential race as former rivals undoubtedly seek his endorsement and help to win Iowa. He is likely to be considered as a vice presidential nominee.

Other campaigns immediately began to seek out Vilsack s well-respected staff, hoping to pick up talented political operatives with experience in the first nominating state.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com

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