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Iowa governor seeks Floridians' approval

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published December 12, 2006


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WEST PALM BEACH - The 2006 election season is barely over, and the 2008 election is already heating up, with Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack bringing his presidential campaign here while Florida's political leaders try to make the state a bigger player in the race.

Vilsack spoke to about 100 Democrats in what he said was an interview for the job. He talked about a new strategy in Iraq, focusing on the federal deficit and debt instead of the so-called death tax, and delivering a new message on abortion.

"The tax that we ought to be reducing ... is the birth tax; that's what I call the deficit and the debt," he said. "Every single youngster born today in this community and across this great land is receiving a bill from Uncle George and Uncle Dick for about $30,000. It is going to compromise their future."

Vilsack, the first declared presidential candidate, also planned to visit Orlando and Miami for private fundraisers.

Lawmakers are considering moving up Florida's presidential primary to make the state more influential in the outcome of the race, an idea supported by both parties.

During the 2004 presidential campaign, it was already certain that John Kerry would be the Democratic nominee when Florida held its primary March 9. Twenty-eight states had already held primaries.

An earlier Florida primary isn't something that the national parties have supported in the past because Florida could have too much sway. The state has 27 electoral college votes, or 10 percent needed for nomination.

The Republican Party of Florida is considering holding a straw poll in October to indicate whom state activists want as their nominee. Similar straw polls have been done, the last organized by Gov. Jeb Bush in 1995, which received national attention. Bush supports an early primary and a straw poll ahead of the 2008 election.

Vilsack wouldn't talk about whether an earlier primary would hurt his campaign. It would give him less time to get his message out in a field that will likely include better-known candidates, such as New York Sen. Hillary Clinton and former vice presidential candidate John Edwards of South Carolina.

"Some people are much better known than I am. I've always been an underdog; I've always been a long shot," Vilsack said. "But what I think ends up winning these races is ideas that move people, that inspire people."

While he considered himself an abortion rights advocate, he said members of his party need to promote ideas that make life the best choice, by encouraging adoption and providing programs for prenatal care, family planning, child care and health insurance.

"When you phrase it that way, you send a message to the life community that you respect but don't necessarily always agree with their position. And you begin to have a conversation about issues where there might be consensus as opposed to division," said Vilsack, who was adopted.

[Last modified December 12, 2006, 01:00:57]


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