Thursday, November 30, 2006

Quartz - New Hampshire


Quartz - New Hampshire (4), originally uploaded by adamantine.

A cluster of quartz crystals from Westmoreland, New Hampshire. This view is 15 mm across.


After '08 announcement, Vilsack makes beeline to N.H.

By Holly Ramer, Associated Press Writer | November 30, 2006

CONCORD, N.H. --Facing the first Democrat to formally enter the race for president in 2008, New Hampshire voters got right down to business Thursday, pressing Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack on a range of domestic and foreign issues.

When Vilsack was introduced at a dinner organized by Merrimack County Democrats, Beth Campbell was dismayed to hear a reduction in state workers was included among Vilsack's other accomplishments.

"As a state employee in the state of New Hampshire, I'd like to know why that's a good thing?" she asked him as soon as he opened the floor to questions.

Vilsack explained that the reductions came through early retirements, not layoffs, and were part of an efficiency plan that resulted in higher salaries for the remaining workers.

"Which was the choice state workers made," he said. "It wasn't a good thing or a bad thing, but a reflection of dealing with difficult fiscal times. You have to make tough decisions, and I think what you want in people you elect to government is the ability to make tough decisions."

That satisfied Campbell, who works for the Department of Employment Security.

"I was all set to be angry with him, because I'm a union member, but he did very well," said Campbell, who is shopping around for a candidate to back since her first choice, Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, "dumped" her by deciding not to run.

Vilsack, who is finishing his second term, announced his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination earlier in his hometown of Mount Pleasant, Iowa. Though political analysts say a Midwestern governor running as an outsider may appeal to voters unhappy with corruption and partisan bickering in Washington, Vilsack has a low profile outside Iowa and even he acknowledges his candidacy is a long shot. In the most recent New Hampshire poll, taken in late September, he wasn't included among the possible Democratic candidates.

Vilsack he said he plans an aggressive national campaign that will focus on encouraging ordinary people to get involved in changing the country.

"I believe very strongly that the solutions to America's problems are on Main Street, not K Street, so I'm looking forward to campaigning in a place like New Hampshire where I'll have an opportunity to listen," he said in an interview before the dinner. "This isn't just about me, it's about people talking to me and encouraging them to participate in the process."

Few in the audience needed encouragement, however. One questioner began a lengthy question about what Vilsack would do to address the problem of global warming, then ended by linking the issue to campaign finance reform.

"So I want you to talk about that, too," he said.

"Do we have breakfast coming?" Vilsack joked before returning to what he called the fundamental issue of his campaign: weaning the nation off foreign oil and promoting alternative energy.

"I'm not sure it's dependent on campaign finance reform," he said. "But it really is the issue that allows us to say the solutions to America's problems are right here."

Vilsack was less direct when asked how he would respond if New Hampshire moves its presidential primary ahead of the Iowa caucus. Traditionally the Iowa caucuses have opened the nominating season, followed by the New Hampshire primary eight days later, but the Democratic National Committee has approved a Nevada caucus in between. New Hampshire has not set its 2008 date, and there has been some speculation that the state may move its contest ahead of all other states to comply with state law.

Vilsack praised the voters of both states for preparing candidates not just for vigorous campaigns but for governing.

"I think it's important for Iowa and New Hampshire to maintain their status as first-in-the-nation caucus and first-in-the-nation primary," he said. "I hope whatever the calendar ends up being, Iowa and New Hampshire are preserved as first in the nation."

Even if New Hampshire's "first" came first?

"I understand that there is the power of the Secretary of State to make those decisions ... but we will work through that," Vilsack said. "The whole point of this exercise is to make sure we have a vigorous debate that involves retail politics at its most grass-roots level."

No comments:

There was an error in this gadget