Tom Vilsack '72

Rumors suggest that presumed Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s short list of vice presidential candidates includes Hamilton alumnus and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack ’72. Media pundits speculate that her announcement may come at the conclusion of the Republican Convention next week. Others suggest that she may wait until Democrats are already gathering for their convention in Philadelphia the following week.

Although Virginia Senator Tim Kaine tops the list, many outlets, among them CNN, point to Vilsack as “the person on the list she can most trust” and “the safest pick of all.” The Washington Post observed, “Vilsack is a well-known figure across rural America, where Democrats (and Clinton) have struggled.”

A 1972 graduate of Hamilton, Vilsack is married to Christie Bell Vilsack K’72. He earned a law degree in 1975 from Albany Law School. He entered the political arena as mayor of Mount Pleasant, Iowa, in 1987. His next stop was the Iowa State Senate, where he served from 1992-98.

Vilsack was elected Iowa's 39th governor in 1998, the first Democratic governor of the state in more than 30 years. He was re-elected to a second four-year term in 2002 and chose not to run for a third term in 2006, instead opting to take steps toward running for president. Vilsack launched his campaign for the Democratic nomination for president in November 2006 but ended his bid in February 2007. He became President Obama’s Secretary of Agriculture in 2009. Vilsack gave the college’s commencement address and received an honorary degree in 2001.

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