The Short-Lived Presidential Campaign of Tom Vilsack

Tom Vilsack is dropping out of the presidential race. This is pretty amazing to me, considering we’re still 11 months away from any voting, a time in previous cycles when candidates hadn’t even announced they were running yet (and some who run this time around may still be holding back, like Clark and Gore). He announced his candidcay back in November ’06 and he drops out in February ’07 for an election to be held in November ’08. Truly bizarre.

What killed Vilsack’s candidacy? He made comments at the candidate forum a few days ago in Nevada suggesting he thinks social security should be indexed to prices, rather than wages, and that angered a lot of people in theliberal blogosphere. Atrios jokingly speculates that “our mighty social security blogofascism destroyed him”, which is hard to actually believe (Vilsack’s explanation for the comments is here). Just this morning, Chris Cilizza sized up the Vilsack campaign this way:

Vilsack is the only “second-tier” candidate at the moment who can run with the big boys (and girl) in any one of the early caucus and primary states. Sure, he runs behind Edwards, Clinton and Obama in Iowa, but at least he’s in the game. 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. As we’ve said before, we have trouble seeing how Vilsack can “win” Iowa (literally or symbolically), but we’re intrigued by the kind of campaign he is running.

Now I’m intrigued by his dropping out so suddenly. He was even on Leno just last week, so what happened?

UPDATE: It’s all about the money, apparently. That’s rather disheartening.

UPDATE II: Ezra Klein thinks it’s not merely money but that Vilsack was “ideologically and temperamentally unsuited to the moment.”

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