An early rival for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, President Obama's Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, dropped out of the race in February 2007 because of anemic fundraising and dwindling polling numbers. The 51-year-old Vilsack later became an early and vociferous supporter of Mr. Obama's chief adversary, Hillary Clinton, before shifting his support to Mr. Obama in the general election. Vilsack was sworn in as the 30th Secretary of Agriculture on January 21, 2008.
Vilsack was born in a Roman Catholic orphanage in 1950. He was adopted in 1951. Vilsack received his undergraduate degree from Hamilton College in 1972 and a law degree from Albany Law School in 1975. Prior to serving as governor, he was a state senator from 1992 to 1998 and the mayor of Mount Pleasant, Iowa from 1987 to 1992. In 2004, Vilsack was short-listed to be John Kerry's presidential running mate.