Surprise: Tom Vilsack is Out!

From the The Mercury News:

DES MOINES, Iowa – Democrat Tom Vilsack, the former Iowa governor who built a centrist image, abandoned his bid for the presidency on Friday after struggling against better-known, better-financed rivals.

“It is money and only money that is the reason we are leaving today,” Vilsack told reporters at a news conference, later adding, “We have a debt we’re going to have to work our way through.”

Vilsack, 56, left office in January and traveled to early voting states, but he attracted neither the attention nor the campaign cash of his top-tier rivals – Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Sen. Barack Obama and John Edwards. He even faced obstacles in his home state.

Vilsack has a video farewell on his site:

Click here to play the video

Vilsack’s withdrawal still leaves a crowded field of eight Democrats. He will remain an important figure in the presidential race as former rivals undoubtedly will seek his endorsement and help to win Iowa.

Vilsack, who likely will be considered as a vice presidential nominee, repeatedly declined to endorse another candidate at his news conference.

Consider Vilsack the “grass roots” Democrat from the heartland who very well could end up on the eventual ticket. He’d have some rivals for the spot but he’s not a bad choice for the Dems.

And then there were eight.

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