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  Don’t underestimate Tom Vilsack
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ContributorCOSDem 
Last EditedCOSDem  Nov 16, 2006 07:50pm
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News DateSunday, November 12, 2006 01:00:00 AM UTC0:0
DescriptionTom Vilsack announced his candidacy for president of the United States on Thursday, prompting bloggers everywhere to ask: “Tom who?”

But Vilsack, the two-term governor of Iowa, wouldn’t be the first person to go from relative obscurity to the White House in the course of a few years. Just ask Jimmy Carter, who spent some time as “Jimmy Who?” before his 1976 campaign’s improbable success made him the nation’s 39th president.

Vilsack may not be well-known, but he’s no lightweight. And although Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are the big celebrities in the 2008 presidential field, Vilsack might just leave them in the dust.

Orphaned at birth and raised the son of a real estate agent and a homemaker in Pennsylvania, Vilsack has the kind of classic American success story that offers a welcome contrast to the last two presidential elections, both of which were fought between a pair of upper-class twits. As a teenager, he met and fell in love with an Iowa girl, Christie Bell; they would eventually marry and move to her hometown of Mount Pleasant, a small city of about 10,000 people in the southeast corner of the state. He established himself as a community leader and was elected mayor in 1987 after the previous mayor, Edward King, was killed by a disgruntled citizen who opened fire with a handgun during a city council meeting.

Vilsack went from the mayor’s office to the Iowa Senate, where he spent six years before being elected governor — the first Democrat to hold that post in 32 years.
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