[applause] Thanks so much. Well I want to thank everyone for spending a few minutes with us this morning.
When Christie, Jess and Doug and I were considering whether or not I would run for president, Christie suggested it was similar to Magellan's decision. The boat was at the dock, it was ready to be launched, and what would you do? Would you just simply walk away from it or would you get in the boat and see where it took you. Well we got in the boat, we took a great journey, but it's time to bring the boat back to the dock, so today I'm announcing that we are ending this presidential campaign.
Before I explain the reasons for that, I want to take an opportunity to thank some folks, starting with my family. The support and love of my wife Christie, who is my best friend, and our two sons, Jess and Doug, who are our best work, has meant so much to me, and I'm extraordinarily proud of the love and support that they've given to us during this campaign. I'm extraordinarily proud of the friends, particularly from my hometown, from my home state, and from my birthplace, who have been so instrumental in this campaign, and I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart.
I want to say a special thank you to the staff. There are a lot of young men and women who changed their lives, in some cases made significant decisions to uproot themselves from their families to come here and work on this campaign because they believe in me and they believed in the ideas that we were going to put forward. They built the strongest organization in the history of the caucuses at this point in time and it was an organization taht I'm convinced would have been sufficient to have won the Iowa caucuses were we to continue, but the reality is that we are not going to be able to continue.
I also want to thank all those who have financially contributed to the campaign. They were supporting with their resources and with their advice and their friendship.
The reality however is that this process has become to a great extent about money--a lot of money. And it is clear to me that we would not be able to continue to raise money in the amounts necessary to sustain not just a campaign in Iowa and New Hampshire, but a campaign across this country. So it is money and only money that is the reason that we are leaving today.
This has been an extraordinary journey for me and for Christie. Walter Mondale suggested I would learn a lot about myself and a lot about the country were I to do this and he was absolutely right. I learned that we are a great nation, we are a nation that has challenges, but great opportunities.
I'm proud of the campaign that we ran. I'm proud of the ideas that we put forward. I'm particularly proud of the stance we've taken on the war in Iraq. It is a war that needs to end now, not six months from now, not a year from now, and I believe as a rsult of the strong stand that we've taken that my hope and prayer is that this war does in fact end sooner rather than later and that lives of American soldiers are saved. I'm proud of the comprehensive energy plan that we've put forward. The most comprehensive energy plan that I think has ever been put forward by any presidential campaign. It is the domestic issue and I suspect that those who remain in this race will continue to talk about energy in a meaningful way and I hope that we've contributed to that debate. I'm proud of the stance that we've taken on education reform. Clearly this country needs to have creative and innovative thinkers, not just standardized test takers. And so I'm proud of the ideas that we've put forward.
Some may suggest that this has been a failed enterprise. I would say it has not been a failure. It may not have been as successful as I had hoped and wanted, but I have grown as a person and I have grown in my fondness and appreciation for the greatness of this country. For those who see this as a failure, let me simply quote Theodore Roosevelt who once said that the credit doesn't belong to the critic, the person who says where things could have been done better; the credit really belongs to the person who is in the arena, who if he fails, fails while daring greatly, so that his soul is never with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat. And I've been lucky to know both and I appreciate the opportunity that all of the people who have been supportive of this campaign and particularly the people of Iowa have given me, and now we move on to bigger and better things. Thank you all.
[Vilsack then took questions].
PRESS RELEASE from Tom Vilsack
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 23, 2007
Josh Earnest & Stephanie Bjornson
VILSACK WITHDRAWS AS PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE
Will Continue Fight to Defund Iraq War, Achieve Energy Security
Organization & Message Trumped by Money
DES MOINES, IA -- Former DGA Chair and Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack today announced that he is ending his presidential campaign, citing money -- the so-called "invisible primary" -- as the only reason for getting out of the race.
According to Vilsack:
"I am a very luck guy, blessed in love, family, friends, job, and by this campaign.Media-expensive states that have moved, or are considering moving their primaries or caucuses to early February 2008 include: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, New Mexico, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Utah.
"I have the boldest plan to get us out of Iraq and a long-term policy for energy security to keep us out of future oil wars. Our campaign has built the strongest organization here in Iowa, with almost 3,000 supporters among Democratic caucus goers. We are organizationally positioned to win the caucuses in January 2008. We have everything to win the nomination and general election.
"Everything except money."
Vilsack, a native of Pittsburgh and successful two-term governor of Iowa, vowed to continue fighting for bold changes in America's international and domestic policies:
"I am leaving one campaign, but I am not saying goodbye. I will continue to fight for the outsiders and underdogs who are the backbone of the Democratic Party and our country. And I will continue to fight to end the war, achieve energy security and get our country back on track. So stay tuned. The best is yet to come."Vilsack, who said that he will not be endorsing any presidential candidate at this time, urged his fellow Democrats to keep the presidential campaign positive and to spend time campaigning in small communities and living rooms across America.
"Retail political events in coffee shops, living rooms and small towns are sometimes dismissed by insiders as relics of the past, but they are wrong. It's critically important to our party and our country that our candidates spend the time and energy visiting the small towns and communities that make America great. And let us focus on the dreams that unite us rather than be distracted by the differences of opinion that sometimes separate us."As a presidential candidate, Vilsack was the first to announce his candidacy, the first to oppose the Bush-McCain Doctrine of escalating the war in Iraq and the first to demand that Congress use its spending power under the Constitution to bring U.S. fighting to an end in Iraq.
Today, Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post wrote:
"As for the ideas primary, Vilsack continues to issue the most detailed policy proposals of anyone in the Democratic field; the latest example was a comprehensive energy plan. ... [W]e're intrigued by the kind of campaign he is running."Last week, the San Francisco Chronicle called Vilsack's energy-security plan "the most wide-ranging and detailed energy policy of any of almost two dozen 2008 presidential hopefuls, Democratic or Republican."
Also last week, the Washington Post reported that Tom "has the most gripping personal story -- he was orphaned and grew up in an abusive family -- of any Democratic candidate."
Tom Vilsack was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1950. He never knew his birth parents. Shortly after his birth, he was handed over to nuns in a Catholic orphanage in Pittsburgh, where he stayed until he was adopted. Vilsack was raised in a loving but troubled home. His parents, who successfully triumphed over their problems, have served as a lifelong inspiration.
Vilsack married his college sweetheart, the former Christie Bell, and moved to Mt. Pleasant, Iowa - Christie's hometown -- in the 1975. In the past 19 years, Vilsack served successfully as mayor, state senator and governor.
- 30 -
Paid for by Tom Vilsack for
Contributions to Tom Vilsack for President are not deductible for federal income tax purposes.