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Vilsack Seeks Oval Office

Location: Mount Pleasant, IA

Vilsack seeks Oval Office

In front of a hometown crowd of more than 200 people, Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack made it official Thursday — he's running for president.

The crowd chanted "Go, Tom, Go" and the two-term Democratic Governor immediately responded, "I'm going. You can depend on that."

Vilsack, who became Mt. Pleasant's mayor in 1987, after the previous mayor was murdered, served the city for five years. He was later elected to the Iowa Senate for two terms.

Considered an underdog when he ran for Governor in 1998, Vilsack erased a 20-point deficit to defeat Congressman Jim Ross Lightfoot.

"I have always been the underdog and longshot," Vilsack said. "And I have always been inspired by stories of ordinary people who struggled, but ultimately succeeded."

Vilsack talked about Iowa's strengths in education, health care and being a leader in renewable fuels.

"In the past eight years, Iowa successfully changed farm fields into energy fields," Vilsack said. "We changed the traditional idea of agriculture and became the national leader in renewable fuel and energy production. As a state, we became more economically, environmentally and energy secure.

"If you drive around Iowa today, you will see a changing landscape marked by new ethanol and bio-fuel production plants and wind farms.

"We had the courage to create change in education, health care and government itself. And by having the courage to create change, we provided greater security and opportunity to our people."

He is the first Democrat to formally announce a Presidential campaign.

"That is why I am here today - to continue our work, and to bring the courage to create change to America," Iowa's governor said. "It will take leadership to create this change. But it also will take an active sense of community."

After leaving Iowa, Gov. Vilsack made announcement visits to New Hampshire, his native Pittsburgh, Penn., Nevada and South Carolina.

"America needs a president who builds and creates...who makes our country more secure...who is bold and has the courage to create things," Vilsack said in his announcement speech. "I will be that president. "So today, in front of the family and friends I love and here in the community I call home, I announce my candidacy to be the next President of the United States."

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