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Iowa's Vilsack endorses Hillary Clinton for 2008

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DES MOINES, Iowa (Reuters) - Former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, who dropped his brief presidential bid last month, endorsed Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s candidacy for the White House on Monday.

“This is the person to be the next president of the United States,” Vilsack said at a news conference with Clinton. “She is tried, she is tested and she is ready.”

Vilsack said the endorsement was in part a result of the former first lady’s fund-raising efforts on his behalf during his first campaign for governor in 1998.

“In politics, loyalty is a commodity that is rare,” Vilsack said.

His endorsement is a boost for Clinton in Iowa, which traditionally holds the first contest of the nominating race. Clinton, a U.S. senator from New York, leads a crowded Democratic field in national opinion polls but trails 2004 vice presidential nominee John Edwards in many Iowa polls.

Vilsack dropped out of the 2008 White House race after finding he could not keep pace in raising money.