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Ex-Iowa governor drops 2008 presidential bid

Story Highlights

• Tom Vilsack cites financial reasons in dropping out of 2008 presidential bid
• Vilsack was a two-term governor of Iowa; he left office last month
• Vilsack faced better-recognized, better-financed rivals for Democratic nomination
• Vilsack among more aggressive candidates in calling to bring U.S. troops home
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DES MOINES, Iowa (CNN) -- Former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack said Friday he is pulling out of the 2008 Democratic race for president, citing financial difficulties in a campaign that lasted 15 weeks.

Vilsack, 56, said he would have continued if it weren't for the large amounts of money he would need for a campaign.

"The reality, however, is that this process has become to a great extent about money, a lot of money," he said. "And it is clear to me that we would not be able to continue to raise money in the amounts necessary to sustain, not just a campaign in Iowa and New Hampshire, but a campaign across this country.

"It is money -- and only money -- the reason we are leaving today." (Watch as Vilsack asserts his short-lived campaign wasn't a failure Video)

With his wife, Christie, by his side, Vilsack thanked his family, friends and financial supporters.

The two-term governor also praised his staff.

"It's an organization I'm convinced would have been sufficient to have won the Iowa caucuses if we were to continue."

He added, "They believed in me, and they believed in the ideas that we were going to put forward."

Vilsack formally announced his presidential candidacy in November; his gubernatorial term ended in January.

Between November 9 and the end of the year, Vilsack had raised $1.17 million.

A move or possible move by "media-expensive states" to shift their primaries or caucuses to early February 2008 would only exacerbate Vilsack's financial dilemma, according to a statement from his campaign office.

Among those states are California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan and Missouri.

Vilsack was considered a long shot for gaining the Democratic Party's nomination. He faced stiff competition, notably from Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois.

Vilsack has been a vocal opponent of President Bush's plan to send more troops to Iraq, and this week the Democrat proposed that Congress cut off funding for the war, which he said "needs to end now, not six months from now, not a year from now."

He vowed to keep fighting for national and international issues.

"I am leaving one campaign, but I am not saying goodbye. I will continue to fight for the outsiders and underdogs who are the backbone of the Democratic Party and our country.

"And I will continue to fight to end the war, achieve energy security and get our country back on track."

Vilsack becomes the second Democrat to make an early exit from the presidential race. Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Indiana, ended his campaign after 10 days.

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Former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack tells reporters Friday in Des Moines that "it is money -- and only money -- the reason we are leaving today."

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