E-mail Interview


John Hlinko, President of the political consulting firm Extreme Campaigns, and David Wallace, a PR professional, put up this site on April 4, 2003.

Hlinko responded to questions in an April 5, 2003 e-mail:

> What specifically prompted you to put this site together?  Have you met Gen. Clark? Read his book?  Can you recall some incident, statement, etc. that caused you to think, by gosh I'm going to do this?  Do none of the nine declared Dem. candidates appeal to you?

I've been working full-time in politics/activism for quite some time (full bio at: http://www.extremecampaigns.com/aboutus.htm if you're crazy enough to want all the details), so I've been keenly interested in the 2004 election since... well, the day after election day 2000. ;)  While I wouldn't call myself a knee-jerk dem by any stretch, I do feel strongly that we need a new president.  I have not liked what President Bush has done on a range of fronts -- economic, foreign policy, etc.  So I feel that the Dems need to really put their strongest possible candidate forward -- one who not only is right on the issues, but who can win in 2004.  I feel they already have some very good candidates, and I am a particular fan of Howard Dean (even was lucky enough to meet him early on in his campaign, before he'd formally declared, and have a great conversation).

But to reiterate, the Dems need to put their *strongest possible candidate* forward.  And I believe Clark may well be that candidate.  And even though there are some other great ones out there -- wouldn't it be great to finally have an primary season where dems get to have a problem choosing... because there are *too many* great candidates? ;)

Specific to General Clark, I first researched him several months back when his name first was floated here inside the beltway.  But it was watching him in the lead-up to Iraq that really got me intrigued.  The way he very cogently and concisely critiqued the Bush policy, but also provided real alternatives... not just whiney "hey hey, ho ho" chants. Researching him further, I was bowled over by his resume and record of achievement. And, I was further drawn in by his moderate record on domestic issues.  Watching him further, I continued to get the sense that -- this guy really understood what he was talking about, and had an incredible ability to simplify complex issues.  That was confirmed further when I spoke with a range of friends, including some incredibly accomplished folks, who also were picking up this same feeling, and really getting intrigued by Clark as well.

Further, in the current environment, I think we will need a president with a razor-sharp understanding of foreign policy, and most importantly, the ability to build (and rebuild) international coalitions.  Given his experience with NATO, Kosovo, etc., I think he could be very well positioned to do this.

In short (well, given how wordy I am, it may be too late for "short") -- I got the strong sense this guy could be a great president, and definitely wanted to see him get into the fray.  The primary season is a tough one, and the proof will be in the pudding, once he actually has to get out there and battle.  But the Dems need to field their "A" team this year -- and I've got no doubt that he should be part of that field.

> Have you met Gen. Clark? 
Have not met the General personally, but my partner in this effort (Dave Wallace) did a year or so ago, and was incredibly impressed.  Have heard similar stories from others.

> Do none of the nine declared Dem. candidates appeal to you?

Again, Dean is probably my favorite, with Kerry a close second.  I would like nothing better than watching a hard fought battle between them and Clark.  The Dem party, and America as a whole, would be much the better for it.

> Can you recall some incident, statement, etc. that caused you to think, by gosh I'm going to do this?

That "gosh I'm gonna do it" moment -- Last week, having lunch with Dave.  We'd had dinner earlier with a mutual friend who is also on CNN a bunch (middle east expert/professor), and who has spoke glowingly of Clark as well. Dave and I sort of had this epiphany over pasta that... given our feeling, given the friend's feeling, others, etc.... dammit, this guy needed to be drafted. And if no one else was going to step forward and do it -- there was no reason we couldn't lead the effort ourselves.

> When did the site go up?

Literally, it went live on Friday (April 4th).  I've told only about a dozen folks about it thus far, but the word appears to be spreading fast.  We will blast it out to a bunch more friends and others on Monday.

> Have your efforts to convince Gen. Clark included other steps in addition to the web site.

Have not reached out to Gen. Clark yet, but have just started really reaching out to other friends, political folk, PR folk, and ANYONE who can help spread the word. The key first priority is getting the message out there that this site exists -- and giving the folks who might be feeling the same way as us, a way to make their feelings known.


Copyright © 2003  Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action.