(CNSNews.com) - Former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack was set Friday to become the first in a crowded field of Democrats to drop out of the race for the party's 2008 presidential nomination.
The 56-year-old former two-term governor and former chairman of the moderate Democratic Leadership Council was expected to make a formal announcement later in the day, according to campaign officials cited in wire service reports.
Last month, the Vilsack campaign described him as "the first candidate of either party to condemn the McCain-Bush Doctrine of escalating the war in Iraq."
Vilsack - who filed documents to establish a presidential campaign committee the day after the November mid-term elections - has fared miserably in opinion polls since then.
In Gallup/USA Today polls, he obtained a single point in November and one point again the following month. In January and February polls, he failed to register at all. Vilsack scored one percent in a Granite State poll earlier this month.
(The Feb 9-11 Gallup/USA Today poll gave Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) 40 percent, followed by Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) at 21. Former Vice President Al Gore - who is not officially running - got 14 percent and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards 13.)
Vilsack's departure leaves a large number of contenders or potential contenders in the Democratic race, including Clinton, Obama, Edwards, Sen. Chris Dodd (Conn.), New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (Ohio), Sen. Joe Biden (Del), retired Gen. Wesley Clark and former Sen. Mike Gravel (Alaska).
The Republican field, or potential field, includes Sen. Sam Brownback (Kan.), Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Rep. Duncan Hunter (Calif.), Rep. Tom Tancredo (Colo.), former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, Rep. Ron Paul (Texas) and former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson.
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