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Byline: Craig Gilbert and Greg J. Borowski
CLIVE, Iowa _ Hoping that his Wisconsin roots and populist style sell just as well in neighboring Iowa, former Gov. Tommy Thompson launched his Republican presidential campaign in both states Wednesday, calling himself a "reliable conservative" with "common-sense" solutions.
"It's a long way for this boy from Elroy to the grand white home on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C.," said Thompson, who faces difficult odds in a crowded but unpredictable GOP field.
In Milwaukee, Thompson drew more than a thousand people, most of them students, to a Messmer High School gymnasium that was named after him in recognition of his signature support for private school choice.
In a suburb of Des Moines, Thompson drew about 300 people, a solid crowd for a Republican _ especially a perceived dark horse _ at this early stage in a very fast-starting campaign.
Presenting himself as an innovator and problem-solver, Thompson touted his record in …