Vilsack ends his bid for presidency, cites costs

Published February 24, 2007

DES MOINES, Iowa - Democrat Tom Vilsack, the former Iowa governor who built a centrist image, abandoned his bid for the presidency on Friday 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, 56, 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 of New York, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois and former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina. Vilsack even faced obstacles in his home state.

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 to remain viable.

"I came up against something for the first time in my life that hard work and effort couldn't overcome," Vilsack said, his wife, Christie, and two grown sons at his side. "I just couldn't work any harder, couldn't give it enough."

Vilsack will remain an important figure in the presidential race as former rivals undoubtedly will seek his endorsement and help to win Iowa.

Vilsack was the first Democrat to enter the 2008 race, opening his campaign on Nov. 30 as the not-from-Washington candidate. He also became one of the most outspoken critics of the Iraq war and called for an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops.

But already in debt, he said he wanted to abandon his bid before his finances worsened.