Vilsack positioned himself in the presidential campaign as a Washington outsider with heartland appeal, but he dropped out after poor showings in early primaries. He endorsed Clinton and campaigned actively for her in the long primary campaign against Obama. After Obama defeated Clinton, Vilsack endorsed him.
First elected governor in 1998, Vilsack, 56, carved out a reputation as a political centrist. He balanced Iowa's budget and resisted raising taxes, but he was willing to spend money on such priorities as education and health. He argued that pushing alternative energy sources is key to bolstering rural sections of the nation that are struggling economically and with vanishing populations.
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