The Note

Political reporters often forget to "follow the money" but Clark is working this angle hard, of course.

Clark, Message Issues:

By letting Adam Nagourney, Jim VandeHei, Johanna Neuman, and Joanna Weiss interview him on the plane to Florida (for somewhere between 75 and 90 minutes), Clark certainly shook up his place in the Democratic world. LINK and LINK and LINK

Everyone led with Clark's apparently new position that he would have voted for the war resolution in order to give the United Nations leverage (what is known among the cognoscenti as "Kerry VII" or "the Kerry Baltimore position.").

But there was more than that.

See VandeHei for Clark's apparent unfamiliarity with the Brady law.

And Nagourney for Clark's views of military spending, voting for Reagan and Nixon, gays in the military, and the president's request for funding for Iraq and Afghanistan.

And don't miss Nagourney's absolutely must-read passage about the first-time candidate calling for help from the first-time press secretary ("Mary, help!") during a tough moment.

Suffice to say, the message is a work in progress. Some of the other Democrats are amazed at the manner in which Clark is taking and (apparently) untaking positions.

Speaking of positions, the Miami Herald 's Wallsten and Bolstad interviewed Clark, with The General offering this on the death penalty: LINK

"At one point in the interview, Clark endorsed a moratorium on the death penalty, saying there has been ''a lot of discrimination and a lot of injustice'' and saying cases should be reviewed with DNA evidence. Asked if he would back a halt to executions, Clark sat up straight."

"'Stop. Stop,' he said. 'I promised I wasn't going to take a strong position.'''

We'll be sure to look at Clark's Cuba comments, too.

Writes one Democrat with national political experience:

"I have read the accounts of the Clark interviews and my reaction is despair and anger. Why did my party's best operatives think it would be a good idea to subject their neophyte candidate to the country's savviest reporters for over an hour? Why have my party's elders rallied around a candidate who is so shockingly uninformed about core issues and his own positions? I am not a Dean supporter — but I am angry that our party's leaders have anointed an alternative to him who seems even more ignorant and unprepared — and that this supposed 'anti-war' candidate turns out to have been in favor of both the war resolution and Richard Nixon!! And let's not even talk about the Clintons. Today I am embarrassed to be a Democrat."

USA Today 's Walter Shapiro trashes the Clark announcement speech as having no vision (and gives Elmo something else to bcc e-mail around today!). LINK

Slate does the Clark worldview. LINK

Clark, Clinton factor:

Advisers to the other presidential campaigns seem to be of four minds about all these Clinton people getting at least somewhat involved in the Clark effort.

a. These are people who couldn't find work at their preferred level in the other campaigns, and so were flattered to be asked by Clark (who asked many personally). They say that these are the type of people who get on conference calls at the drop of a hat.

b. They are furious that these people are gravitating to Clark, when they know nothing about him.

c. They think that Bill and Hillary Clinton are out of control and however this Clark thing ends up, the Clintons will once again have put their own interests about those of the party.

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