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Meet the Veeps: Tom Vilsack

Oct. 27 2008, Published 7:07 a.m. ET

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Just when you were starting to get a grip on the 2008 presidential candidates, introduces you to hot picks for vice president—those most likely to glom on to some savvier, better-looking, richer presidential front-runner in hopes of becoming the nation's second banana.

Feel like American politics are too polished, too flashy? Let former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack win back your support. He's the wide-eyed, salt-of-the-earth Midwesterner who, contrary to what recent video footage of him suggests, has never been lobotomized.

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Vilsack's résumé makes him a logical choice: He's an affable and successful two-term governor of a political swing state who comes equipped with an inspiring personal story (he was abandoned by his birth parents and placed in a Catholic orphanage and then was adopted by an abusive drunk). Couple his Dickensian origins with a bizarre, Chance Gardener-esque rise to power in the highly competitive world of Iowa politics (he was elected mayor of Mount Pleasant, Iowa, in 1987 after his predecessor was murdered) and he seems like a natural.

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But how is he on a national stage? His brief foray into the 2008 presidential race was a non-starter and will probably be remembered primarily for a terrifying campaign logo that was more suited to a Judge Dredd reelection campaign, circa 2139. Vilsack also struggled to raise money, and when he dropped out, he was able to convince Hillary Clinton to pay off his campaign debts, which supposedly had no effect on his decision to endorse her. Oh, and he's also a bit of a mope. As he left the race, he offered this: "When you're the child of an alcoholic, just about the worst thing is when you've disappointed people."



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