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Could Tom Vilsack Emerge As the Next Bill Clinton?

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When Iowa ex-Governor Tom Vilsack announced his candidacy for the presidency two months ago he was immediately labeled as a 'long shot.' While there are some similarities to the successful long-shot bid then Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton launched in 1992, the hill Vilsack must climb is much steeper.

Both Clinton and Vilsack served multiple terms as governors—Vilsack in the heartland, Clinton just south of it. Both served states that are generally viewed as purple: both have seen a fairly mixed party representation to the US House, Senate, as well as the Governor's office over the years. Arkansas usually votes for Republican presidents, but not in blow out races (John Kerry lost by just nine points in 2004). Iowa and Arkansas are also low on Electoral College votes (Iowa with 7, Arkansas with 6).

But the similarities end there. For one, Vilsack—while not old by any stretch—is not the dynamic 'boy wonder' Clinton was when elected in 1992: Vilsack is 56, Clinton was 46. Clinton's campaign and presidency was nearly derailed a few times with personal (rumors of affairs, avoiding the Vietnam draft) and political (Whitewater) scandals, while Vilsack's image is comparatively squeaky clean (and, perhaps as a corollary, a bit more dry as well).

But the biggest difference Vilsack will face in 2007 compared to Clinton in 1991 is his competition: Visack is facing at least two bonafide political superstars—one seasoned (Hillary Clinton) and one novice (Barack Obama). The candidates Bill Clinton had to defeat on his rise to the party's nomination in 1992 were 'solid statesmen,' but not superstars—three U.S. Senators (Tom Harkin of Iowa, Bob Kerrey of Nebraska, and Paul Tsongas, former Senator of Massachusetts) in addition to a few Democratic Party retreads (Jerry Brown and Eugene McCarthy).

If Clinton's ascent was a 'long-shot' 15 years ago, they may have to invent a new word for Vilsack should he beat the odds and win the party's nod in 2008.

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Remains of the Data

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Political Crumbs

Final Four Has Presidential Approval

By edging Michigan in the final seconds Sunday, the University of Kentucky guaranteed that one school in the Final Four this year would be located in a state that was not carried by President Barack Obama in 2012. (Connecticut, Florida, and Wisconsin had previously earned Final Four slots over the weekend). Across the 76 Final Fours since 1939, an average of 3.1 schools have been located in states won by the president's ticket during the previous election cycle. All four schools have come from states won by the president 29 times, with the most recent being the 2009 Final Four featuring Connecticut, Michigan State, North Carolina, and Villanova. On 30 occasions three Final Four schools have been located in states won by the president, with two schools 11 times and only one school six times (the most recent being 2012 with Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, and Ohio State). There has never been a Men's NCAA Division I Final Four in which no schools were located in states carried by the president's ticket.


Three for the Road

A new Rasmussen Poll shows Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in a dead heat with likely 2014 Democratic nominee Mary Burke. Walker is seeking to win his third consecutive election after prevailing in 2012's recall contest. Eight of his predecessors accomplished this feat: Republicans Lucius Fairchild (in 1869), Jeremiah Rusk (1886), Robert La Follette (1904), Emanuel Philipp (1918), John Blaine (1924), Walter Kohler (1954), Warren Knowles (1968), and Tommy Thompson (1994). Three others Badger State governors lost on their third campaign: Democrat George Peck (1894), Progressive Philip La Follette (1938), and Republican Julius Heil (1942). One died in office before having the opportunity to win a third contest (GOPer Walter Goodland in 1947) while another resigned beforehand (Democrat Patrick Lucey in 1977 to become Ambassador to Mexico). Overall Wisconsin gubernatorial incumbents have won 35 of 47 general election contests, or 74.5 percent of the time.


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