Daschle to Iowa (Again)
Former South Dakota Sen. Tom Daschle (D) just keeps popping up in Iowa.
The ex-Senate minority leader headlined the state Democratic Party's annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner on Nov. 5, and he will be back in the Hawkeye State on Feb. 1 for a speech at Iowa State University in Ames.
Daschle will keep a busy speaking schedule between now and then. He will be in California for a series of four speeches in four days from Jan. 9-12, and then will be in New York City on Jan. 19 to keynote the spring orientation dinner at Milano The New School for Management and Urban Policy. In both California and New York, Daschle will meet with individual donors to solicit funds for his leadership political action committee -- New Leadership for America.
Daschle's schedule continues to spur speculation that he is planning to run for president in 2008 -- after backing away from a national run in 2004.
Steve Hildebrand, Daschle's lead political adviser, refused to address speculation about the South Dakotan's national intentions. "Tom is continuing to be very aggressive at helping candidates all across the country and is continuing to keep a high profile and using his voice to promote a progressive agenda," said Hildebrand.
So does Daschle have a chance to make an impact in the Iowa caucuses? Maybe.
Daschle has two major assets. First, since South Dakota borders Iowa, he can paint himself as someone who uniquely identifies with Iowa's need and concerns -- especially when it comes to agriculture.
Ed Skinner, an attorney and powerful political player in the state's Democratic politics (and a friend of Daschle's) said that "a number of the issues [Daschle] has worked with were important all over the Midwest." Skinner and Daschle sat down for breakfast on Nov. 6 in Des Moines, though the former senator's potential presidential bid was not broached, Skinner said.
Daschle's other primary asset is Hildebrand, who is considered a top campaign operative in the party and has considerable Iowa experience, having secured a victory for Vice President Al Gore over former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley (D) in the state's 2000 caucus.
"Steve Hildebrand is very close to Daschle and has a lot of experience in Iowa and that makes [a Daschle run] a more real possibility," said Iowa Democratic consultant Jeff Link.
Daschle's potential hurdles are relatively clear. When he considered the race in 2004, he was one of the most visible and powerful figures in the Democratic Party. With his loss to Sen. John Thune (R) in 2004, Daschle no longer holds a political office and will have to overcome the perception that he is yesterday's news.
In addition, Daschle must show that he can raise money now that he's out of office using New Leadership as his primary fundraising vehicle. Hildebrand said the PAC gave out $230,000 in 2005 to Democratic candidates.
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