Vilsack's Withdrawal Troubles Centrist Democrats

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U.S. News White House Correspondent Kenneth T. Walsh reports this item:

Democratic centrists are deeply troubled by the withdrawal Friday of former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack from the presidential race. They see Vilsack's pullout -- which he blamed on the enormous difficulties of fund-raising and his lack of money when compared with his better-known rivals -- as the latest example of how pragmatic centrists are leaving the Democratic field to candidates who are perceived as more liberal, such as Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards.

"It really limits our choices," says a prominent Democratc organizer who had close ties not only to Vilsack, but also to two other centrists who decided not to run -- Indiana Senator and former Governor Evan Bayh and former Virginia Governor Mark Warner.

An additional problem is that the Democratic front runners are all veterans of Washington and have no experience actually running a government. Clinton and Obama are senators, and Edwards is a former senator. In recent years, it has been governors who gave the Democrats their White House successes -- former Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996, and former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter in 1976. Party insiders say New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson could fill the bill, but he lags far behind the front runners in national and state polls, and apparently in the money race.