Posted 11:02pm September 17
by Marcus Mrowka
U-WIRE Washington Bureau Chief
Retired General Wesley Clark announced his bid for the presidency on Wednesday, becoming the 10th Democrat to seek the party’s nomination to run against President Bush in November 2004.
Clark made the announcement in his hometown of Little Rock, Ark., in front of hundreds of supporters. He especially thanked those in the grassroots movement who spent months trying to lure Clark into the race.
“You took an inconceivable idea and you made it conceivable,” Clark said.
Clark, 58, served in the U.S. Army for over 30 years. During that time he fought in Vietnam and was appointed NATO Supreme Allied Commander where he was a major force in U.S. operations in Kosovo.
The retired general graduated first in his class at West Point and was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University. He is currently the Chairman of Wesley Clark & Associates, a strategic advisory and consulting firm. Gen. Clark has never held elected public office.
The announcement largely focused on the economy, civil liberties and national security.
“For the first time since the 1960s and 1970s, more than 100,000 U.S. troops are fighting abroad,” Clark said. “And at home, Americans are concerned about their civil liberties … for the first time since the end of the Cold War, many Americans no longer feel safe in their homes and workplaces.”
Clark rallied supporters by listing off a number of questions his campaign plans to ask the Bush administration.
“Why has America lost 2.7 million jobs? … Why has America lost the prospect of a $5 trillion surplus? … Why has America lost the respect of so many people around the world? … Why are so many in America hesitant to speak out and ask questions?”
The audience responded by shouting back “Bush” to Clark.
Clark argued that his campaign was going to hold the administration accountable for its policies and outline a plan to “restore economic opportunities” and restore “a sense of security for every American.”
“We are going to travel across the country and take the concerns of ordinary Americans and their unique talents and bring together a vision of the way ahead,” he said.
The retired general announced plans for two upcoming speeches that will outline his vision for the economy and national security.
Clark hopes his campaign will “generate the kind of frank, honest, open public debate this nation deserves.”
Students for Clark founder and director Damien Goodman told U-WIRE that in the past day, over 90 students have contacted the organization to start chapters. Currently there are over 125 chapters on campuses throughout the country.
Goodman characterized Clark as a “man of integrity” and argues his “message resonates to everyone.”
“Howard Dean has certainly set the bar, but I think Gen. Clark’s message is more universal,” Goodman said in response to the former Vermont governor’s ability to attract grassroots followings on college campuses across the country and how Clark will compete.