Vilsack: State Of The Union Is 'Anxious'


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Former Iowa Governor and Democratic candidate for president Tom Vilsack just held a conference call with reporters to offer a pre-buttal to tomorrow's "State of the Union" speech by President Bush.


In one word, Vilsack describes the current state of the union as "anxious," and also accused the president of waging two wars, one in Iraq and another on the nation's middle class, pointing to expected calls by Bush for a tax increase.


As for the troop surge, Vilsack said it would just make a "big mistake even bigger." "It's not going to work," said Vilsack, who repeated his call to bring the troops home from Iraq sooner rather than later, adding that a cap on troop numbers was a bad idea and that it was time for the Iraqis to take responsibility for their own security. "It's time to bring the troops out of Iraq, out of harm's way."


Vilsack also addressed the selection of Harold Ford, the former Democratic candidate for Senate in Tennessee, as his successor at the Democratic Leadership Council Gay rights activists have complained that Ford, who is anti-gay marriage, would be likely to shut out their agenda from consideration at the DLC. Vilsack said that the DLC never excluded anyone from the exchange of ideas under his chairmanship, and would not do so under Ford.


Vilsack was also questioned about the celebrity factor in the 2008 Democratic primary, asked if the entrance of high profile candidates like Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and if they would still need to participate in the traditional pressing of the flesh that Iowa's caucuses are so famous for. Celebrity aside, Vilsack said Iowa voters take their role in the party process very seriously, and that candidates would have to take the campaigns to the living rooms and the church basements if they expected to have any traction in his home state.


"If there's a candidate who thinks they can win Iowa without doing that they don't understand the caucus process," said Vilsack.


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