Obama selects former Iowa governor for agriculture post, Democrats say

Obama's Transition

December 17, 2008|By Chicago Tribune

Former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, who aggressively campaigned for Sen. Hillary Clinton before his state's precinct caucuses in January, will be named agriculture secretary by President-elect Barack Obama, three Democratic officials confirmed yesterday.

The formal announcement was expected this morning at a news conference in Chicago.

Vilsack, 58, declined to comment on the report. "Those questions should be answered by the transition office and the president-elect," he said via cell phone.

The former two-term Democratic governor has been a supporter of renewable energy and pushed for development of Iowa's ethanol industry. The state is one of the nation's top producers of corn and hogs, and also has a large meat-packing industry.

Vilsack, who had campaigned for the Democratic nomination himself but dropped out of the race in February 20007, was the top Clinton official in Iowa before the state's caucuses. He also frequently questioned Obama's preparedness for president.

But after Clinton's departure from the race, Vilsack campaigned for Obama's general election effort in Iowa and other states.

"He has a firsthand look at the role of agriculture in our global economy," Sen. Charles E. Grassley, an Iowa Republican, said of Vilsack in a statement. "I'm happy for him, happy for Iowa, and this is welcome news for agriculture."

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