DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Gov. Tom Vilsack was named yesterday as the head of the Democratic Leadership Council, the group led by Bill Clinton before he became president.
The post significantly increases Mr. Vilsack’s national profile and gives the potential 2008 presidential candidate an opportunity to travel the country to organize fellow Democrats and craft a message for the party.
“I look forward to advancing reforms that will keep our country safe, give every American a chance to get ahead and reconnect our party with heartland values,” Mr. Vilsack said.
“There is nothing wrong with our country or our party that a positive agenda won’t fix,” he said.
Mr. Vilsack will assume the post at a July 25 meeting in Columbus, Ohio, replacing Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh, who is also mentioned as a potential presidential candidate in 2008.
Mr. Vilsack has made little secret of his interest in seeking the presidential nomination after his term as governor ends next year, and his national profile has been gradually increasing over the past year.
He was on 2004 presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry’s short list of potential running mates, and after the election, he was urged by some to run for chairman of the Democratic National Committee, a position now held by Howard Dean.
DLC founder Al From said the post would give new national credibility to Mr. Vilsack, whom he said was “almost without peer among governors as a reformer.”
Mr. Vilsack said he’s focused on gubernatorial and midterm elections next year, not himself, and sees a major opportunity for Democrats.
But he said the party must move beyond criticizing President Bush and develop a message that appeals to a wide range of voters.
“It’s not enough to be angry,” Mr. Vilsack said.