At this stage of the 1976 and 1992 elections, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton were little-known governors of small states with infinitesimal rankings in the Presidential polls.
That’s the slim reed to which Tom Vilsack’s 2008 hopes are lashed as the just-retired governor of Iowa makes his way, in media dimness, toward next year’s primaries.
“I’m not a rock star,” he tells you, ‘but I am rock-solid.”
Since we saw him in December, he has raised over $1.1 from admirers including Warren Buffet, made a solid impression at the Democrats’ meeting last weekend as the only candidate to call for immediate withdrawal from Iraq and will soon unveil an energy plan calling for a 75 percent reduction from emissions levels of 2000.
In a small room with half a dozen suburban reporters last evening, Vilsack continued to talk sense without notes (as he did last weekend to Howard Dean’s astonishment).
“We’re at the American Idol stage of the campaign,” he told them, but is confident that voters will want answers rather than slogans while talking earnestly and persuasively of his conversation with the Prime Minister of India about the link between literacy and world hunger.
Of course, there are differences between 1992 and 2008, but if Tom Vilsack fails to emulate her husband, “the Comeback Kid,” Hillary Clinton could do a lot worse in picking a running mate to balance her own strengths.