Idaho: The Dem Stopover 

The 2008 presidential race is off to an earlier-than-ever start, with candidates revving up their campaign engines long before the traditional start of the race. But it's still surprising to hear of two national Democratic potential candidates making stops in Idaho, where Democrats foundered in statewide elections.

The biggest wild card is this month's appearance by former Vice President Al Gore. His January 22 appearance at Boise State was moved to the Taco Bell Arena due to overwhelming interest in tickets (the first offering sold out in 10 minutes).

Gore is not, of course, a declared candidate. But his campaign for global-warming awareness and recent vigor on the stump, er, podium, has made pundits wonder if he's re-thinking the 2008 race. Gore has yet to shoot these rumors down firmly. But Idahoans who want to ask him may as well hold their tongues; his speech will be his only appearance in what is seen as a quick-and-dirty stopover before flying on to the next event.

But another 2008 candidate who is in the race for certain is Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack. He's declared his candidacy, has a campaign staff, and recently visited Ketchum, a Democratic haven, for a visit and fundraiser. The Idaho Mountain Express reported that Vilsack's visit drew more than 100 supporters just before the New Year.

"There's something going on out [West] that the Democratic Party nationally should pay attention to," Vilsack said. "I'm in this race because I'm a proven winner and a tested leader."

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