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Vilsack launches campaign

Former Iowa first lady starts bid for new 4th Congressional District

July 20, 2011
By BILL SHEA - Messenger staff writer , Messenger News

Shared sacrifice should be the basis for any deal to raise the federal government's debt limit, according to former Iowa first lady Christie Vilsack.

''Everybody's got to give a little,'' she said during a phone interview late Tuesday afternoon as she formally launched her campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives.

''It can't be all about cutting spending,'' she added. ''It can't be all about raising taxes.''

Vilsack traveled through north central Iowa Tuesday, declaring her candidacy in the new 4th Congressional District on the day the U.S. House of Representatives considered a bill to tackle the looming debt problem. That measure would cut government spending, cap its future growth and begin the process of amending the Constitution to require a balanced budget.

She said she's not privy to the ongoing discussions in Washington and she didn't say how she would vote on the bill. But she said that any solution to the debt problem will have to include both spending cuts and tax increases.

Vilsack wants to represent a new congressional district created by this year's reapportionment process that includes Webster County and 38 other north central Iowa counties.

U.S. Rep. Tom Latham, R-Ames, now serves many of those counties. But he announced plans to move to avoid a primary election showdown with U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Kiron, who landed in the new district thanks to the reapportionment. Latham is going into the new 3rd Congressional District to challenge U.S. Rep. Leonard Boswell, D-Des Moines.

Latham's move and the absence of any other candidates so far sets the stage for a King versus Vilsack contest in the 2012 election.

Vilsack said nothing about her likely opponent Tuesday.

''I think there will be a clear contrast as we move through the campaign,'' she said.

The candidate said values she learned growing up in Mount Pleasant will guide her approach to politics and government. The willingness to compromise is one of those values, according to Vilsack. She said people in small Iowa towns have to learn how to get along and members of Congress ought to learn how to do that as well.

''I want to be a problem-solver, not a partisan fighter,'' she said.

Vilsack said she will emphasize education, innovation and the process of connecting people via things like highways and the Internet. She said she'll introduce specific proposals for each of those areas later.

Contact Bill Shea at (515) 573-2141 or



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