Gov. Tom Vilsack (search) said his consideration as a potential running mate for John Kerry (search) is a tribute to the direction the state has taken, giving him a message few other governors can offer.

"What's going on in Iowa is different than what's going on in other states and we should take pride in that," Vilsack said.

The governor pointed to higher student test scores, broadened access to health care and balancing the budget without boosting taxes as achievements he can claim.

"It isn't happening in a lot of states," Vilsack said.

He said he learned of Kerry's selection of Edwards last Tuesday morning at virtually the same time the word was leaking in the media.

Vilsack was on the short list of those considered by Kerry, though it isn't clear how many names were on the list. Vilsack flew to San Jose, Calif., for a two-hour dinner and interview with Kerry, an interview he managed to keep secret. He expressed no disappointment in not being chosen.

"I like the job I have, I love the job I have and I have no illusions about having another job," Vilsack said.

Edwards can boost the Democratic ticket in rural and Midwestern states, Vilsack said.

"He's going to have a great impact on the Middle West," Vilsack said. "He is speaking to folks on that Main Street in my home town. I think he's a great choice in that regard."

In his first trip back to Iowa since joining the ticket, Edwards has scheduled a Des Moines stop on Wednesday.

His selection also is likely to help Democrats carry the state's seven electoral votes. Kerry and Edwards finished first and second in Iowa's leadoff precinct caucuses, and both built a solid field organization in the state.

Iowa is a battleground state which voted Democratic four years ago, but by barely 4,000 votes and it's being contested fiercely this year.