Biden nabs endorsement from former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack

Biden nabs endorsement from former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack
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Joe BidenJoe BidenGabbard says she won't participate in next debate even if she qualifies House Democrats expected to unveil articles of impeachment Tuesday FBI head rejects claims of Ukrainian 2016 interference MORE's campaign announced Saturday that former Iowa Gov. Tom VilsackThomas James VilsackUSDA: Farm-to-school programs help schools serve healthier meals OVERNIGHT MONEY: House poised to pass debt-ceiling bill MORE (D) and his wife Christie have endorsed Biden's White House bid as the former vice president seeks to shore up support in the early voting state.

"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," Vilsack wrote in an op-ed for USA Today

Vilsack, who served two terms as governor in the state ending in 2007, is a prominent party leader who served as head of the Department of Agriculture for all eight years of the Obama administration. He endorsed Biden a little more than 70 days from the Iowa caucuses, as Biden battles several Democratic rivals for support in the state, including South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegGabbard says she won't participate in next debate even if she qualifies McKinsey allowing Buttigieg to disclose past clients Saagar Enjeti: Elizabeth Warren reveals grim future under her presidency MORE (D), Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenGabbard says she won't participate in next debate even if she qualifies On The Money: White House, Dems edge closer to trade deal | GOP worries about Trump concessions | DOJ argues Congress can't sue Trump on emoluments | Former Fed chief Volcker dies UN International Anticorruption Day highlights democracy as a human right MORE (D-Mass.) and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersLawmakers release defense bill with parental leave-for-Space-Force deal Gabbard says she won't participate in next debate even if she qualifies Overnight Health Care — Presented by That's Medicaid — Deal on surprise medical bills faces obstacles | House GOP unveils rival drug pricing measure ahead of Pelosi vote | Justices to hear case over billions in ObamaCare payments MORE (I-Vt.).

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"I share the concern deeply held by many Americans of all political persuasions that our country is in a state of 'disorder,'" Vilsack wrote Saturday. "President TrumpDonald John TrumpLawmakers release defense bill with parental leave-for-Space-Force deal House Democrats expected to unveil articles of impeachment Tuesday Houston police chief excoriates McConnell, Cornyn and Cruz on gun violence MORE and his administration continually abuse power, disrupt key foreign alliances and undermine democratic norms. The stakes for the nation in the upcoming election have not been this high in my lifetime. This places a serious responsibility on all of us who will participate in the caucus and who will vote in the general election."

"I think the next president must have the unique combination of the experience and the personal relationships with leaders of both parties to begin the hard work of bringing us together again as one nation," he continued. "The candidate I support must have a progressive vision for the country that builds upon past policy successes while addressing in a real and practical way our major domestic challenges: millions of Americans without access to affordable healthcare, a shrinking middle class, our broken immigration system and an unfair justice system."

Vilsack and his wife will join Biden for campaign stops Saturday in Des Moines and Knoxville, which the campaign said are “the first of many events the Vilsacks will attend for Biden across the Hawkeye State until the caucus on Feb. 3.”

The coveted endorsement from the top Iowa Democratic figure comes as Biden works to fight his way back toward the top of polls in the Hawkeye State. While Biden led in statewide polls for several months, he eventually ceded his lead to Warren and then Buttigieg, who has appeared at the top of three consecutive surveys recently.

The Biden campaign has hinted that it does not need to win Iowa or the following primary in New Hampshire to keep its momentum in the nominating contest, seeing South Carolina as a bulwark with its majority-African American primary electorate, which is still overwhelmingly supportive of the former vice president.

– Tal Axelrod contributed