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Tom and Christie Vilsack endorse Joe Biden for president

Former Iowa governor, first lady to appear at Biden event in Des Moines today

Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden greets Tom Vilsack (left), former Iowa governor and U.S. agriculture secretary, before the Scott County Democrats’ Red, White and Blue Dinner on Feb. 17, 2007, in Davenport. Vilsack and his wife, Christie, have endorsed Biden for president. (Associated Press)
Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden greets Tom Vilsack (left), former Iowa governor and U.S. agriculture secretary, before the Scott County Democrats’ Red, White and Blue Dinner on Feb. 17, 2007, in Davenport. Vilsack and his wife, Christie, have endorsed Biden for president. (Associated Press)

By Erin Murphy, Gazette-Lee Des Moines Bureau

DES MOINES — Joe Biden’s presidential campaign picked up one of the biggest endorsements Iowa Democrats have to offer.

Tom Vilsack, the former two-term Iowa governor and U.S. agriculture secretary, has endorsed Biden in the Democratic presidential primary, the Biden campaign announced today.

Vilsack served as federal ag secretary under President Barack Obama and his vice president, Biden.

Tom Vilsack’s wife, Christie Vilsack, a former congressional candidate in western Iowa and longtime education advocate, also is endorsing Biden’s campaign.

“As I thought about the candidate who has the ability to bring us together as one nation, the progressive but practical vision for progress at home, the experience and personal relationships to repair America’s image abroad, and the best chance at winning the states we have to win to govern, I concluded that Joe Biden is the person for the job,” Tom Vilsack wrote in an op-ed that was published Saturday in USA Today.

Biden is among a pack of four candidates leading the Democratic presidential primary in Iowa, along with South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Biden was the early polling leader in the race in Iowa, but since mid-September has slipped as Warren and Buttigieg have surged.

“I have known Joe Biden for over 30 years,” Tom Vilsack added in his op-ed. “I ran my first race for mayor because Joe reminded me that the penalty for not getting involved is that people less qualified than you get elected.

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“I learned from him how to work with others across the aisle as a state senator and governor. I remain privileged and honored to have worked with him for eight years during the Obama administration.”

The Vilsacks were scheduled to appear at a campaign event with Biden today in Des Moines.

Christie Vilsack also wrote an op-ed supporting Biden; hers appeared in some of Lee Enterprises’ newspapers in Iowa.

“I met Joe and Jill Biden 33 years ago when they came to Iowa to run for president. I trust them as much today as I did then, and that’s why I’m supporting Joe in the Iowa caucuses in February,” Christie Vilsack wrote.

“After a year of attending events, reading and listening to policy statements, and talking to other Iowans, it’s clear to me that Joe is best positioned to beat Donald Trump next November.”

Comments: (563) 383-2492; erin.murphy@lee.net

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