Images Organization Finances Ads IA | NH
Leadership for America The Clark Coalition (umbrella site)
WesPAC - Securing America's Future
|On September 17, 2003 in Little Rock, Arkansas, General
Wesley K. Clark
(ret.) entered the race for the Democratic presidential
Little more than four months before the first-in-the-nation Iowa
caucuses, Clark joined a field of nine Democratic candidates who have
crisscrossing the country, raising money, and building campaign
since the beginning of the year, in most cases following upon many
of preliminary activities. On the day of Clark's announcement,
example, Gov. Howard Dean, the perceived frontrunner, was making his
visit to New Hampshire since the beginning of 2002 and spending his
day in the state. Dean had also made at least 32 visits to Iowa,
totaling 66 days.
Clark brought impressive credentials to the race. He served 34 years in the U.S. Army, rising to the rank of 4-star general and NATO Supreme Allied Commander. In 1966 he graduated first in his class from the United States Military Academy at West Point. A Rhodes Scholar, he earned a Master's degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Oxford University. He served as an infantry officer and company commander in Vietnam and was wounded in action. In July 1997 Clark became Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), and his military career culminated with the prosecution of NATO's war in Kosovo, where a 78-day aerial bombing campaign forced Slobodan Milosevic to withdraw his forces from Kosovo.
Following his military career, Clark penned Waging Modern War (Public Affairs, 2001). He joined Stephens Inc., an investment banking firm, and served as a commentator for CNN. He formed Wesley K. Clark & Associates, a strategic advisory and consulting firm, and Leadership for America, a 501(c)(4) organization "dedicated to fostering the national dialogue about America's future."
The first talk of a possible Clark bid appeared on October 14, 2002 when the PoliticsNH.com website decribed a visit Clark made to the Granite State. Months later, several Draft efforts appeared. DraftWesleyClark.com launched on April 4, 2003. At the outset it encouraged people to write letters urging Clark to run, then it ran radio and later television ads in New Hampshire, and by mid-September generated pledges totaling more than $1.5 million in the event Clark opted to enter the race. The Draft Clark 2004 for President Committee (DraftClark2004.com) opened a headquarters in Little Rock, Arkansas and a field office in Dover, New Hampshire and developed a national network of regional coordinators. Dozens of Internet sites and blogs sprang up, ranging from an Alabama for Clark site to a Wisconsin for Clark site. Michigan attorney Regina Mullen launched a Blacks 4 Clark site. The author of a Latinos for Clark site wrote that "creemos que el General Wesley Clark sería un candidato fantástico para todos los americanos y también para los hispano-americanos."
Throughout this period Clark remained coy about his intentions, while making his interest in a presidential bid clear. In June appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press" Tim Russert asked Clark directly if he were running for president. Clark responded, "I'm going to have to seriously consider it." At that time Clark had not even declared which party he belonged to, a step which he took on September 3. On September 16, Clark met with top advisors in Little Rock, setting the stage for his September 17 announcement. [reactions]
Clark faced a significant challenge catching up in money and
organization, and it was unclear how well he would fare with labor and
other Democratic constituency
groups. His lengthy military service played into his favor in the
context of the war against terrorism. The fact that he was not a
politician and had not been
campaigning for months upon end offered an appeal voters to fed up with
Clark was able to build a top notch organization in part
picking up many of the people who had worked on Sen. Bob Graham's
campaign. He campaigned
under the theme of a "New American Patriotism." The Clark
brought in $3.5 million in contributions in just two weeks following
his announcement and another $10.3 million in the final quarter of
2003. However, in October he had decided not to compete in the
January 19, 2004 Iowa caucuses. Despite intensive campaigning in
New Hampshire, he finished a distant third with 12.43 percent of the
The Clark campaign had an
organization in about a dozen states, and he won the February 3, 2004
Oklahoma primary. He announced his withdrawal after finishing
third in the February 10 primaries in Tennessee and Virginia. He
endorsed Sen. John Kerry on February 13 and actively campaigned on his
behalf. In April Clark launched WesPAC - Securing America's
Future to help elect Democrats to the White House and Congress.
Clark's speech to the Democratic National Convention was very well
received, and he continued to work on Kerry's behalf into the fall
|Website launched Sept. 17, 2003.||Upgraded website, latter part of Sept. 2003.||Dec. 5, 2003 content much expanded.|
ABC News "Field Notes: Inside the Clark Campaign" Deborah Apton >
Elizabeth Drew. "Waiting for the General" The New York Review of Books. November 20, 2003. >
Tom Junod. "The General." Esquire. August 2003. >
Speeches and Texts
Democratic National Convention, FleetCenter, Boston, Massachusetts, July 29, 2004.
Farewell Remarks (As Prepared), Little Rock, Arkansas, February 11, 2004.
Democratic National Committee Fall Meeting, Washington, DC, October 3, 2003.
Announcement Speech, Penick Boys and Girls Club, Little Rock, Arkansas, September 17, 2003.
Webcast to the Draft Movement, September 17, 2003.
Site launched early June 2003.
The Draft Movement
|Site launched April 4, 2003.||Intermediate look (June 18, '03)||Redesigned site August 2003.|
(Site on June 18, 2003)
See also interview with Susan Putney and photo of Dover, NH office (July 5, 2003).
(Site on June 18, 2003)
Copyright © 2003, 2004 Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action