ABCNEWS' Deborah Apton was on the trail with retired Gen. Wesley Clark during his run for president. For the latest report, scroll down.
Stop and Shop
CONCORD, N.H., Jan. 8— Members of the press exchanged quizzical looks when Gen. Clark walked into a crowded room for a "Conversations with Clark" on Wednesday afternoon wearing a gray, green, maroon, cream -- well, multicolored, argyle sweater.
And for those traveling with the campaign, what made it worse was knowing that Clark borrowed the sweater from his brother-in-law, Gene. So it was no surprise when the Clark campaign made an OTS stop as they call it (Off-The-Schedule), to the L.L. Bean factory store to get The General a new sweater.
Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor also came along for the last-minute stop focused solely on getting a wool sweater for Clark and a winter coat for his body man, Amad.
After a day of teasing for the argyle sweater from both press and staff, Clark tried to explain the "look." "I took the sweater off the back of my brother-in-law," Clark said as he searched for the men's sweater section, "I was cold."
Besides some retail politics (Clark extensively questioned one couple about "where to ski" in New Hampshire, and gave a lesson in baby kissing to one mother who carried her nine-month-old son), Clark seemed to be at the stop to model for the dozen or so press. And, as he so often does, Clark seemed to want to befriend the press, asking them their advice on size, color, and even offering to buy his hometown reporter from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette a sweater to keep him warm on the trail.
At one point, Clark showed his lack of expertise in shopping at a factory store when he held up a sweater and, while examining the price tag, asked, "Why is this so cheap? Cause nobody wants it?"
After holding sweaters up to his chest, Clark finally chose one -- according to Clark, forest green is his color -- but it was a "Tall/Large" size, seemingly too big for the 5'10" General. After a member of the press told him he should try some on, Clark hesitantly walked into the fitting room.
Two sweaters later, Clark walked the catwalk out of the dressing room wearing the sweater he'd wear out of the store announcing, "I get two thumbs up. This is a large. It feels good."
You take the good. You take the Bad.
PETERBOROUGH, N.H., Jan. 7— It was a good day in New Hampshire for Gen. Wesley Clark, who found himself smack dab in the middle of the spotlight following the publication of the USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll. As the crowds built and the traveling press core doubled, Clark was smiling, joking with reporters late Wednesday night that the campaign may have to get a press bus instead of the two minivans they are now using.
But with the good, comes the bad. In addition to attacks from Edwards and Dean, Clark is taking the brunt of opposition from the Dean campaign. On Wednesday afternoon, two Dean volunteers stood in the frigid cold outside of a Peterborough "Conversations with Clark" handing out a two-sided opposition paper on Clark. On one side it read "WESLEY CLARK: PRO-WAR" -- the other side, "WESLEY CLARK: REAL DEMOCRAT?" And then, in a box at the bottom, it was printed: Paid For by Dean For America.
Clark responded to the hand-outs saying, "I guess that's what you can expect from professional politicians." And, while Clark maintains he is running a positive campaign, both he and his senior communications strategist, Chris Lehane, did not rule out a return fight back at some point.
Instead Lehane told reporter after reporter that "Dean is starting to hear the footsteps. The hot breath of the Clark campaign is on the back of Dean's neck."
But it doesn't seem like the attacks will let up. When Clark shows up in North Dakota on Saturday, 'Dean for America' may have a surprise for The General. In an e-mail sent out by Dean's North Dakota "GenDean" coordinator, Berrett Gall, Dean supporters were invited to the Jefferson-Jackson dinner where Clark will be speaking. Gall writes:
"Wesley Clark will be speaking at the event, and we want there to be at least 100 Dean supporters there, 50 of them, GenDean members. We will have Beanies, shirts, noise makers, and a bunch of cool Dean stuff for you when you get there."
Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, the Clark campaign staff is now down to six full-time staffers and one part-time staffer having had eight full-timers at the end of last year. Nick Berning, Clark's communications director out in the Feb. 17 primary state, told ABC News that the deputy state director was fired on Dec. 31. The Dean camp hired him right afterwards. Then Wednesday, one junior field staffer announced her departure and conversion to the Dean campaign. Down two full-time staffers, Berning denies any shake-ups in the Wisconsin staff for Clark, saying that the campaign is strong in Wisconsin and they're looking at some "great people committing to endorsing" Clark. Berning did confirm that the Dean campaign made calls to about four staffers today trying to recruit them, but he asserted that nobody was going anywhere.
You've Got Mail
Madonna fans had a political e-mail waiting for them in their inboxes today: the Material Girl wrote to fans in support of Gen. Clark. The Note began: "I know that people seem to pay attention to everything I do. Big or Small. Ridiculous or Sublime. So I am hoping they pay attention to this: I am supporting General Wesley Clark for President."
Madonna's endorsement was first reported last month after The General and Mrs. Clark met with Madonna and her husband, Guy Ritchie, at their Los Angeles home in mid-November. Press secretary Bill Buck says that for now, there is no concert or performance by Madonna attached to her endorsement.
In Madonna's e-mail she says that she sees "the qualifications, character and vision that we so desperately need" in Clark, calling him a "national hero."
The General wasn't available for reaction on Wednesday, but when asked by ABC News last month what his favorite Madonna song was, he said he liked them all. That is, before settling on "Like a Prayer."
OBL: Could Clark catch him?
DIXVILLE NOTCH, N.H., Dec. 18— Gen. Clark said on a conference call with reporters Thursday that "what wasn't clear in 1998 was clear in January of 2001, and that was that Osama bin Laden was the greatest threat to the United States of America. And for this new administration not to have focused on it was wrong, they should of, it was their duty to do so, and apparently they did not."
When asked by a reporter what he would have done as President in 1998, Clark said: "I don't know if I could have taken him out, I believe I could." But just one day earlier, on Wednesday, Clark said with confidence that if he were President now, he would have both Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden by this time.
Jamie Rubin, Clark's foreign policy advisor, served as Assistant Secretary of State under Clinton. Rubin told ABC News that the current administration needs to dedicate more resources to fighting terrorism -- something Clinton, and now Clark, would do if given the opportunity.
Subtle atrategy, subtle attack
LACONIA, N.H., Dec. 17— In a "Conversations with Clark" meeting Wednesday night, Clark closed the town hall meeting like he does any other: asking people to throw house parties and "come over" to the Clark04 team. "I need you help. I'm not a politician," The General began. And then….the attack on Democratic rival Howard Dean. "I haven't spent my life running for this thing. I didn't go down there and argue with Al Gore three years ago and say I might run against you."
A new 30-second Clark ad will begin airing in New Hampshire today called "Leader." General Clark speaks directly to the camera in the commercial, focusing on his plans for Iraq. Later this week, there will be another 30-second ad filmed in New Hampshire.
Media consultant Joe Slade White will be in town to film a "Conversations with Clark" at an elementary school on Friday, followed by an interview with the candidate. White told ABC News he doesn't "film spots," but rather collects his footage and lets the spots make themselves. "All the issues flow out of his life," White said.
When asked about radio spots for Clark, White said they could be expected up in the next week or two.
Clark returns from Hague
BOSTON, Dec. 16— "Welcome Home General Clark" signs filled Terminal E of Boston's Logan Airport as groups of Kosovar Albanians, Bosnians, and native Bostonians scrambled to shake General Clark's hand, congratulate him, and give him flowers on his return to the U.S.
Clark told reporters it "felt good" to see Milosevic on trial at the end of the prosecution phase at The Hague. Clark seemed happy with how his testimony went at The Hague and how he was received overseas.
He told ABC News that if he were elected president, he'd probably be the most popular American president in England. But General Clark could not be happy about one thing. One of his suitcases was missing. Fortunately for Clark, it was only his suit bag and he had on his standard dress for the flight-navy suit, white shirt, red tie. Really, who will know the difference?
Clark staff beats back Lieberman's barbs
NEW YORK CITY, Dec. 15 — Even with Gen. Clark overseas in The Hague testifying in the war crimes trial of Milosevic, the news of the day could not be swung away from the capture of Saddam Hussein. And the question of the day for many of the Democratic candidates became-if you had been President, where would Saddam Hussein be?
Sen. Joe Lieberman told reporters on a conference call that "if Howard Dean and Wesley Clark had their way, Saddam Hussein would be in power today and not in prison, and the world and America would be a much more dangerous place."
Clark was not reachable for comment (and most likely would stick to his "I won't attack fellow Democratic nominees" stance), but his communications strategist, Chris Lehane, did not hold back, telling ABC News: "If Joe Lieberman had attacked George W. Bush and Dick Cheney in the 2000 campaign the way he attacks fellow Democrats in 2003, George W. Bush would not be president today and the world would be a better place. Joe Lieberman was buddy-buddy with Bush and Cheney in 2000, supports the Bush war in Iraq and votes more often with Bush than the Democrats -- maybe he is running in the wrong primary."
Late yesterday, Clark appeared on CNN where Paula Zahn asked Clark directly: "If you had been President during this time, where would Saddam Hussein be-in power or in prison?" Clark responded that Hussein would "have probably been brought out of power, in most likely a different process."
General Clark travels to the Hague
NEW YORK CITY, Dec. 14 — It was 22-year-old communications aide Basel Hamdan who broke the news of Saddam Hussein's capture to the rest of the Clark campaign in Little Rock, Ark. As part of the rotating staff of three assigned to "clips," Hamden came into the office at 5:30 am local time (about four hours later than normal since Clark was in The Hague) and turned on the TV. "I saw Dan Rather on at 6:00 a.m.," he said, but with the closed captioning on the bottom of the screen he wasn't able to read the "Saddam Captured" part of the news. Then he changed stations and recalled, "I realized Saddam Hussein was captured and I couldn't believe it."
After e-mailing out the news to the communications department, Hamdan rummaged through desks in the office scrambling, looking for numbers for people that would be traveling with Clark. Seeing as it's an apolitical trip, the numbers were not easily accessible. Once found, the difficulty became dialing the international numbers -- "I dialed 9-1 and the number, then 00 and the number, that didn't work." When Hamden got through to somebody he was told: "They were at customs and they just found out what happened."
The General's life premieres
NEW YORK CITY, Dec. 10 — It was touted as the million-dollar fundraiser that almost caused Gen. Clark's absence from Tuesday's debate -- New York money, glitz, and glamour at the Hyatt Grand Central's ballroom to honor the "American Son." No, not Uncle Sam. "American Son" is named for General Clark and is also the title of the new film by Linda Bloodworth, creator of Clinton's biopic, "The Man from Hope."
The 17-minute film was shown in full at the fundraiser last night and, for the first time, Gen. and Mrs. Clark sat and watched the story of The General's life from beginning to end. Just as the film ended, the lights came up and Clark was seen red-faced and crying. He wiped his face with a napkin as he took the stage for his speech, making sure to smile through the tears.
"American Son" features interviews with Clark's son, Wes Jr., his wife, Gert, his cousin, friends, military comrades, his West Point roommate, and even his high school guidance counselor. Photos and home video of Clark as a child, a young soldier, husband, and father, are all weaved into the film.
There are sound bites from Clark in the film as well; perhaps the most touching moment is when he speaks to the camera about his father's death right before his fourth birthday: "My father was a tremendous influence in my life…he read to me every night, he bought me a present every Saturday. And then one night he read to me and I woke up in the middle of the night and there were a lot of adults in the apartment. They kept me from going to the bedroom. And that was the night he died."
Clark gets lost, finds himself at debate
DURHAM, N.H., Dec. 10— The lesson Gen. Clark had to learn on the campaign trail yesterday: It's never too late.
First, it's never too late to get to a debate. At 6:40 p.m. ET all the candidates had arrived at the Johnson Theater, except Gen. Clark. At 6:45 p.m. ET the heat was on inside as ABC and DNC staff called the campaign trying to figure out what was keeping the Clark convoy was. At 6:50 pm ET, they gathered by the door, waiting for The General to put make-up on him should he arrive. He finally walked in at 6:52 p.m. ET that he walked in with his wife and brother-in-law in tow.
The campaign said they got lost for 45 minutes. Luckily, General Clark didn't miss a beat -- live at 7:00 p.m., he made it on stage -- made-up, hair spritzed. Perhaps he's getting used to getting lost – earlier that same day, the Clark convoy (Clark's van, the staff van, two press vans, and a single car driving Eli Siegel) got lost going from a Dover campaign stop to a New Castle event. Needless to say, the whole caravan ended up in Maine before realizing that they were headed the wrong way.
Clark all smiles despite Gore news
BOSTON, Dec. 8— Gen. Clark was in a van on the way to Cambridge when the AP wire story hit that Vice President Gore was indeed endorsing Howard Dean. The press rode behind wondering what this meant for Clark who just recently said how much he liked Gore and how honored he would be to have him in the cabinet when elected President. But once he arrived in Boston, The General seemed to have already put a twist on the news: if disappointed, hide it; if sad, act happy.
"I don't pay attention to endorsements," Clark told Chris Matthews during the taping of "Hardball," "unless they're for me." The answer sparked a few giggles from the audience. Then, during a commercial break, MSNBC had a quick news update. Clark looked up at the monitor shaking his head, smiling, as the matte on screen read: "GORE ENDORSES DEAN."
But before he was all smiles, perhaps some of Clark's true feelings shown for a brief moment. Before "Hardball" Clark addressed some Harvard students, warning them about the election: "It shouldn't be politics as usual. It shouldn't be an election won by a candidate who raises the most money; it shouldn't be about anger … (lowers voice) … it shouldn't be about endorsements."
There's New Hampshire … and then there are the 49 other states;
MANCHESTER, N.H., Dec. 7 — It's no surprise that Gen. Clark wants to talk only about New Hampshire. Within the last week Clark has gotten encouragement from the polls; he has a third TV ad going up in New Hampshire outlets as early as today; and after spending time on the ground in the Granite State, the mere mention of Clark's name is no longer followed by a "who?"
But it's not just in New Hampshire that Clark wants to talk about New Hampshire. It's in Florida, Virginia, and Washington D.C., too.
Yesterday in Norfolk, Va., Clark spoke to a small group of supporters who followed him to a veterans' cemetery, where he laid a wreath to honor those killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor. One woman told Clark how she drove to Norfolk from Richmond just to see him. After thanking the woman for her support, Clark said: "It's a thrilling thing up in New Hampshire; we're headed back to New Hampshire tonight. We'll be there tonight. We're going to swing through Cleveland and Detroit en route to New Hampshire … we're gonna have to have a primary battle. We're gonna be in Michigan at some point and later in Ohio — but New Hampshire is the place right now."
Aha, it was good …
WASHINGTON, D.C., Dec. 4— As the band Better than Ezra sang last night at a fundraiser for The General — "Aha, it was good."
It was a good day for Gen. Clark yesterday on the campaign trail. "I never pay attention to polls," Clark told supporters at a fundraiser hosted by the campaign's C-Company at a D.C. club last night, "unless they're favorable."
Earlier in the day, a Clark campaign staffer passed around his BlackBerry to press covering a "Conversation with Clark" in Nashua that showed the latest American Research Group (ARG) poll showing Clark a close third in New Hampshire behind Dean and Kerry.
And more from New Hampshire: "The Zogby poll shows me at 9 percent, it shows Kerry falling to, I don't know, 14 or something [Mrs. Clark, standing behind her husband on the stage corrects him, saying, "12."] … and then the ABC poll has me at a statistical dead-heat with John Kerry for second place," said Clark. ABC News questioned which ABC poll Clark was talking about and learned from press secretary Jamal Simmons that Clark actually meant to say the ARG poll.
EXETER, N.H., Dec. 3 — There are two things that Clark is sure of when it comes to the 2000 Presidential Election:
1. He voted for Al Gore.
2. The Florida re-count was not handled well. To say the least.
Yesterday on the campaign trail Clark brought up the recount three times — first at a City Hall stop in Maine, then at an Exeter house party, and finally at a "Conversation with Clark" event at the Exeter Academy. Clark said he watched the country deal with the recount and thought, "That's an America I don't know."
"There were some people counting ballots in a room — they had glass walls. And there were people pounding on those walls — a mob — in our United States of America," said The General in front of students and community members at the prestigious Exeter boarding school last night.
"When I was the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe and we were doing elections in Bosnia Herzegovina, if a scene like that had happened it would be an international outrage and no one would have spoken against it more rapidly than the United States of America. And instead of speaking against it, our Supreme Court seemed to endorse it by suspending the count and installing a President who didn't win the popular vote."
The question: Who's more upset with the handling or mishandling of the Florida recount — The General, who often jokes that he's not even sure whether or not his own vote for Gore counted (he was voting on absentee ballot at the time), or The General's staff that, for the most part, played key roles in the recount?
A Multilingual Candidate?
MANCHESTER, N.H., Dec. 2 — Gen. Clark's 60-second biographical ad that previewed in New Hampshire two weeks ago will begin airing this week in three states with Feb. 3 primaries — South Carolina, Oklahoma and Arizona.
A line from this commercial sparked a question at a Tuesday evening campaign event. The deep announcer's voice says about Clark: "He speaks four languages, but his actions speak more eloquently than words."
A woman in the crowd asked Clark — which four languages do you speak?
"I debated this really hard about these four languages," General Clark replied, implying his uncertainty about putting the line in the commercial. "I know a little bit of Russian," said Clark, "a little bit of German, and a pequito espanol."
Despite spokesman Jamal Simmon's "perfectionist" protestations, we confess we wonder what's considered fluent.
The General offered his own criteria: "Where I am right now is I can still read a Spanish newspaper, and I can give a speech in German if it's written out. And with two vodkas, I can still talk sports in Russian."
Two days ago in Florida, Clark taped an interview in Spanish with the Spanish television station, Univision. The interview was an experience Clark himself called "really humbling." The General said, "I mean I can get all of these languages up to a reasonable level if I'll work on it, but I'm not working on it."
Jamal Simmons, traveling press secretary for the Clark campaign, said General Clark does speak four languages — English, German, Russian, and Spanish — explaining that Clark is only being "a perfectionist" when saying he doesn't speak them too well. Simmons said The General can surely hold his own in all four languages conversationally as he's seen him do on several occasions, citing the time in Queens when Clark spoke with a man in Russian on the street for several minutes.
But Clark summed up his skills: "Where I am right now is I can still read a Spanish newspaper, and I can give a speech in German if it's written out. And with two vodkas, I can still talk sports in Russian."
The General's Cabinet
DELRAY BEACH, FLA., DEC. 1 — The Florida primary may not be until March 9, but Gen. Clark was in Florida yesterday wooing the Jewish vote once again, speaking at Temple Emeth to a crowd of more than 1,000 community members.
After Clark's stump speech, he was ready for questions. One gentleman stood up and asked The General: "Who would you pick for Secretary of State and who would you pick for Secretary of Defense?" While Clark acknowledged that there are a "lot of good people" to choose from, he did list a few, including one fellow Democratic presidential candidate — Sen. John Kerry. Others named as possibilities? Richard Holbrooke, Jamie Rubin, Madeleine Albright, Al Gore, Sam Nunn, and Bob Kerrey.
In a press conference following the event, Clark went on to say: "I have the highest respect for Vice President Gore. And, I'm not sure whether he'd want to be in the vice cabinet, but I'd take assistance from Vice President Gore in any way he'd choose to offer it, I think he's fabulous. And I have a lot of respect for John Kerry and the other candidates, as a matter of fact."
And for those who have stayed up last night wondering what The General gave Mrs. Clark for her birthday yesterday, ponder no more. Gert Clark wore a shining ruby, diamond, and sapphire (red, white, and blue) American flag pin at a Clark04 meet-up in West Palm Beach last night. Clark was overheard proudly asking a supporter "Did you see what I got my wife for her birthday?"
And for those who have stayed up last night wondering what The General gave Mrs. Clark for her birthday Monday, ponder no more. Gert Clark wore a shining ruby, diamond, and sapphire (red, white, and blue) American flag pin at a Clark04 meet-up in West Palm Beach last night. Clark was overheard asking a supporter, "Did you see what I got my wife for her birthday?"
Also, for the first time on the campaign trail, The General and Mrs. Clark shared a public kiss in front of Clark supporters.
The American Flag
Nov. 30 — Back from Thanksgiving, Gen. Clark looked rested as he took to the campaign trail this weekend previewing a new "move" in his stump. Weeks after Clark's announcement that he supports the Flag Amendment, he seems to be integrating the flag into his stump speech in a more pronounced way than ever — touching it, holding it out, and speaking about it — and people are listening, watching, and wondering if this is too dramatic, or plays right to their sense of American patriotism and South Carolina's large veterans' community.
At the Beaufort County Democrat's Harvest Moon Ball on Saturday evening near Hilton Head, S.C., Clark previewed the "grasp the flag and talk" move. He said: "This is our flag. This is a flag that does not belong to Tom DeLay. It does not belong to Bill Frist. And it does not belong to George W. Bush. It belongs to the American people and we have every right to this flag and I'm gonna claim it for the Democratic Party and for the United States of America, and I want your help to do that."
And then, at the opening of the Charleston Clark 04 office the next day, The General once again looked at the flag backdrop behind him, turned around, touched its edge and told cheering supporters, "This is our flag. I know I'm not the only veteran in the crowd — and we fought for this flag, we saluted it, we served under it, and we've seen brave men and women buried under it. I love that flag, it belongs to America, and it belongs to our spirit of patriotism."
Happy Birthday to The General's General...
On the 12th floor of the Embassy Suites Hotel in Ft. Lauderdale last night, Clark staffers gathered in the General and Mrs. Clark's hotel room to surprise Gert Clark with a white chocolate birthday cake and many birthday wishes. Mrs. Clark is traveling with the campaign this week and rarely seen away from her husband's side. So in his spare time, what did The General get the first lady of his life? "It's a secret," he said with a big smile on his face. Hmm … any down time on Worth Ave.?
World AIDS Day...
Gen. Clark will announce his four-part Global AIDS Security Strategy today in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. In a prepared draft of the speech Clark says:
"AIDS is not just a moral issue. It's a national security issue. We must make sure the scourge doesn't reverse gains in the developing world and turn developing states into terrorist breeding grounds. If we don't fight AIDS with medicine and preventive measures, one day, we might have to fight AIDS-induced disorder with the force of arms. If America leads the way alleviating the AIDS crisis, we can reduce the animosity that often gives rise to anti-American sentiment and breeds terrorism. We can also gain more friends and partners around the world. It will be far easier to ask countries to support our concerns when they see us helping them with theirs."
According to an outline draft of the General's speech, the newest policy proposal by Clark will "prevent 14 million new HIV infections," "provide care and support for 20 million HIV-infected individuals and AIDS orphans," "provide treatment for 5 million people living with HIV/AIDS, including supporting the WHO goal of putting 3 million people on treatment by 2005," and "accelerate the development of vaccines and cost-effective treatments to stop HIV, TB, malaria, and other infectious diseases."
The Clark campaign also gave out an outline of General Clark's Global AIDS Security Strategy saying it will:
1. "Keep the U.S. commitment to combat AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria worldwide — doubling funding to $30 billion by 2008."
2. "Dedicate a large majority of U.S. funding to multilateral approaches like the Global Fund to Fight AIDS Tuberculosis and Malaria, while demanding results and additional commitments from our allies."
3. "Base prevention and research efforts on the best available science, including overturning the global gag rule."
4. "Unleash the power of the market to develop cost-effective vaccines for AIDS and other infectious diseases."
Clark stresses unstressing
Nov. 19 — Gen. Clark is definitely making his impression on New Hampshire voters. While many still say they're not on board the Clark train yet, they are turning out to listen … and to ask questions.
For example, how would Clark deal with the stress of being in the Oval Office when something really makes him mad? The answer caught everybody in the audience off-guard, and even his staff couldn't help but giggle. First, The General said swimming calmed him down. Then he told a story about his most stressful day dealing with alliance warfare — the day when he "learned stress comes in colors. There's blue stress, there's green stress, and when it's really really bad, it's red stress."
What'd he do that day? "I realized that I really needed to go to the restroom, and then I felt a whole lot better." More: "Sometimes you just have to get up and walk around from your desk, even if it's the desk in the Oval Office, sometimes you need to get up and clear your head."
We all hope that come primary season the Clark advance staff knows the rest stops off Route 93 and Route 101.
Some moments from the Clark campaign...
Nov. 18 — Sometimes there are moments in a campaign when the candidate is … well … real. The cameras-off-jackets-off-tie-loosened moments when one realizes that the presidential candidate may be enjoying the moment in the spotlight just like any other guy. In retrospect, Clark seemed more Wes on Monday than General.
Early in the day, Clark did a two-way interview with FOX News from a campaign stop in New Mexico where, in a slightly unprecedented moment in the campaign, he got visibly angry on television when challenged by anchor David Asman. Asman showed a graphic of Clark's quote from Sunday's "Meet the Press:" "President Bush has said the war in Iraq is a centerpiece for the war on terror. It isn't. it's a sideshow. It's simply their easiest means of access to attack American soldiers. That's all it is." He then asked if Clark really thinks Iraq was a "sideshow."
When Clark began to answer calmly, calling it a "distraction" from U.S.'s real mission of going after Osama bin Laden, Asman interrupts, asking, "While our men and women are dying in Iraq, is it proper to call it a sideshow?" And then:
CLARK: Don't you dare twist words into disrespect for the men and women in uniform. I love those men and women. I gave 34 years of my life to them. You better take my words the right way. This is about the president of the United States and his leadership. ASMAN: General, I'm just repeating your own words to you. CLARK: No, sir, you are not. You are playing politics … ASMAN: Didn't you say that Iraq was a sideshow? CLARK: No, sir. No, sir. You are playing politics with the men and women in uniform. You are, sir. And I challenge you … (CROSSTALK) ASMAN: I'm sorry, I just read back your own statements, General. CLARK: … take it straight. You take it straight.
Clark then hit New Hampshire for a house party and a live interview with New England Cable Network. During a long commercial break from the broadcast, Clark proudly spoke of the Washington Post article from last Friday on his hair.
"I won the award from the Washington Post . It was the award for best hair. Listen, when you're 50 years old and win the award for best hair, that's like an oxymoron." Staffers joke that The General has definitely spoken quite a bit about the Post article since it came out. In it, Robin Givhan writes: "In a locks-to-locks comparison, Clark would be judged more favorably. Dean's hair looks as though it was ordered from an old Sears catalog. But there's a certain Mayberry charm to Clark's barbershop cut." LINK
On the $12 Million
Nov. 17 — It was a good day for the Clark campaign yesterday. The General seemed to emerge unscathed from his hour-long interview with Tim Russert; the Boston Globe wrote a shining part 1 biography on him; more details on Clark's first television ad were released; and, at the bottom of the second graph in the Washington Post , Lois Romano wrote of campaign officials: "They expect the campaign to raise at least $12 million this quarter, in all likelihood more than any other candidate except Howard Dean."
A brief look back at the numbers we've seen thrown out from the Clark campaign for fourth-quarter earnings:
--On Oct. 22, the AP's Nedra Pickler wrote: "The Clark team sees New Hampshire as part of a broader strategy to raise more than $10 million by the end of the year, air ads next month, finish third in the Granite State in January, then tick off a series of wins in states with later nominating contests."
ABC News contacted Clark campaign officials after the article was published, inquiring about figure that Pickler attributed to Clark "aides." But three said that the number came as a shock to them and they did not know where that number came from or whether it was with or without matched funds. At the time, the campaign did not have a goal amount on the record and the AP was never asked to revise the figure.
--On Nov. 13, the AP's Sharon Theimer wrote that Clark "expects to collect at least $6 million in the current fund-raising quarter, which runs from October through December." Communications Director Matt Bennett confirmed that to ABC News at the time.
--Now the number has gone to an all-time high — more than $12 million in the fourth quarter. Bennett told ABC News that estimate does not include matching funds, but is the total estimate for what they'll raise in the 4th quarter, based on what they project to receive from donors. As for skeptics, Bennett says, "They're welcome to be skeptical. But the fact is, we wouldn't put this out there if it wasn't true."
As of now, Bennett estimated that 35 percent to 45 percent of the money is coming from Internet donations, while the rest falls into the mail/major donors categories.
Campaign Chairman Eli Segal said the campaign has "a good chance of reaching $12 million, but that's based on successful fundraising events in the month of December" and that number is "hitting the higher end of [the campaign's] estimates." Segal also said that the number is based on the fact that the campaign is raising "over $800,000 per week to date" and has "incredibly good fundraising events in December."
One such fundraiser is the Dec. 9 New York City event that falls on the same night as the first New Hampshire debate. Clark will skip the debate to attend the fundraiser, slated to raise $1.5 million.
He explained that the campaign knew Clark had to go to The Hague for three or more days, "you can't move events with impunity in December," and "sending Mrs. Clark or Wes Jr. was not an option." More importantly, it seems clear from many of the campaign staffers, the New York fundraiser could pay for the whole New Hampshire media campaign.
As for the campaign's decision to take public financing, Bennett said, "We think money is coming in at an impressive rate," but it's not fast enough that we can opt out of public financing. He went on to explain that while the campaign is doing extremely well now with the luxury of time for fundraising in New York City, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles, to be competitive in January and February (when they would have to raise $18 million), and without the time for fundraising, the campaign felt they had to take the public financing.
Chris Lehane, the Clark campaign's communication's strategist, said "based on fundraisers scheduled, based on what we're seeing over the Internet … a combination of all those factors, makes us pretty comfortable that that's the number we'd get to."
To CAN-vass or to can-VASS; that is the question
The Clark campaign is gearing up in New Hampshire. Over the weekend, volunteers canvassed 15,000 doors seeking to get the Clark name out. In total, 187 volunteers showed up at the Rogers Street office in Manchester as part of the "Student Invasion Weekend" by college students into the Granite State — coming from schools in Washington, D.C., New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and California.
While The General still hasn't nailed down the pronunciation of canvass (if you were watching "Meet the Press," you'd notice the odd way he said CAN-vass, as can-VASS), he does understand the job of the volunteers and the laborious task of spreading the Clark message in New Hampshire. On Saturday, Clark checked in with the volunteers by phone and listened to some stories from the "canvassing road."
It went something like this (some rough highlights and quicker back-n-forths made by including " … " 's):
Chris Smith, state canvass director of New Hampshire: We believe we knocked on 8,325 doors today.
Gen. Clark: What's the score?
Smith: We're ahead of course …
Clark: We know it's at least Clark plus one, Dean minus one … This is supposed to grow like an amoeba
Smith: That's the plan …
Clark: Of the 100 people or so who were our canvassing, how do we make them happy? What do we feed them, pizza?
Smith: Ziti with meat sauce.
Clark: That'll stick to your ribs — did you all make it OK despite the cold weather? CHEERS FROM VOLUNTEERS …
Clark: How many doors are there total in New Hampshire? I figure we have about 10 weekends left, that would give us only 83,000 doors. Each home must be housing 20 people … we must not be getting enough doors. Which means we must increase the canvassing target … we have to get to 800,000 doors … can you do 100,000 next weekend?
Smith: No problem.
Clark: We'll bring some Arkansas people up, and we'll bring some Texans up. What about the Albanians? Will they drive to New Hampshire to canvass for me? It's my job to motivate and inspire … So we've got a good start … I'm incredibly grateful to ya, I hope you like the ziti … are we canvassing tomorrow? Ok, all right. So we only have 792,000 doors to go …
And while the volunteers worked on Sunday to reach he General's high goal, General Clark himself was off to California where ABC News hears he had a private meeting set-up with the "material girl" herself — Madonna — before heading off to a fundraiser co-hosted by The Eagles. And later this week, John Mellencamp will play a Clark fundraiser.
It's All In The Family
Nov. 14 — For the past two and a half weeks there's been a new face on the road traveling with the Clark campaign. It's a member of Gen Clark's family and it's not his wife or his son. Gene Caulfield is The General's brother-in-law, the "Senior Brother-in-Law" of the Clark '04 campaign.
Caulfield is married to Gert Clark's eldest sister. The General's wife, Gert, is the second oldest, followed by three more sisters and a brother. A Brooklyn and New Jersey native, Caulfield worked for the American Stock Exchange on the trading floor, later moving to Reuters, from where he retired in December, 2002. Following his retirement, he took up consulting on Wall Street again until he got a phone call from Little Rock a month or so ago asking him to help out on his brother-in-law's fledgling campaign.
I'm "the family relative that is indeed working with Wes both at the organizational headquarters and also on the road." And he can literally choose where and when he wants to work. "I will be on the road with him," he explains, "and then all of a sudden I'll decide to go home and rake leaves."
So why leave a career behind to work pro bono in the early days of the campaign? Caulfield joked, because, "I'm the best brother-in-law!" He then went on to explain his bond with Wes Clark. "He has no brother and sisters and I have no brothers and sisters. In effect, I've probably known him longer than anyone else. I've known him since he was a cadet at West Point." In fact, the non-political extended family is all very close — gathering once a year for a reunion with family members coming from as far as Hawaii and New York.
On the road, Caulfield offers some advice, usually about the tie Clark's wearing rather than advice on policy. "I always give him a lot of advice, but usually he's a man of his own conviction."
So after time on the road, the proud brother-in-law made a positive assessment of presidential candidate Wesley Clark — "he's doing amazingly well. He likes getting out, dealing with the people, listening to the people."
And, as for the one moment on the trail that sticks out, Caulfield recalls a moment in New Hampshire when "somebody came up to him and literally started holding his hand and started talking about her problems that she had and wondering if he could correct them at all, almost to the point where he was so emotional, there were tears in his eyes. Like, that's how dedicated his passion is … .and that really impressed me. Impressed me, but didn't surprise me."
Caulfield will continue to come on and drop off the campaign here and there. But his "Senior Brother-in-Law" campaign staff title sticks. As he says, "I've always had that [title] … he just picked up candidate, I've always been that!"
Clark develops stump approach
Nov. 13 — Gen. Clark has been a candidate for President for seven weeks now and while many stump lines have emerged over time, a stump speech has not. Instead, eligible voters who recently turned out for Clark's campaign stops have noticed a change. The General is becoming more comfortable in his new-found role as Clark the politician and straying from script.
At Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire yesterday afternoon, Clark had a few "out of sorts" moments when answering student and community members' questions. A couple:
--On troops doing their missions in Iraq: "We've gone into people's homes at night, kicked in doors, we don't speak the language, troops are nervous … they have night-vision goggles on, the Iraqis think they look through women's clothing with these things — I don't think they do."
--Responding to a question about a meeting with Serbian Commander General Ratko Mladic on August 26, 1994 where, as one student said in his question, Clark and Mladic exchanged military hats and took photos together smiling. The same student asked Clark — "is that the correct way we should approach genocidal leaders?"
Clark's summed up response? It was a "fruitful meeting diplomatically." But here's how Clark says the exchange played out:
"He wanted to exchange hats. So I thought to myself, I accepted gifts from the Muslims, he's not indicted, I don't want to be offensive here, I just want to follow military protocol. And I looked around, I said I guess I can do this, I don't see any cameras or anything. About that very moment, one of the Serbs, it's the kind of thing that happens to you when you haven't done this before — out comes a camera, Bang! He's got it, and quickly releases it to the press to embarrass and so forth."
--When asked how he would rehabilitate relationships with former U.S. allies, Clark responded: "I always found it a good idea that when you go to France, not to ask for barbeque."
--And, for the first time, Clark resorted to some minor name-calling. Not directed at any specific opponent, but he did say, "… the difference between me and the chicken-hawks is I've been there."
When asked in a press availability following the event what the term "chicken-hawks meant," Clark said, "It's a slang term, I think you know what it means."
Clark continued saying, "It's a term of slang that's been applied to people who are very militant but haven't themselves served in the armed forces … I don't mean it in any personal sense. But I do mean it this way, if you want leadership that knows the right balance between diplomacy and the military, you have to have people who understand both elements and have seen both elements first-hand. I have."
Clark strategizes military experience
Nov. 11 — How will Clark's military experience shape his campaign? That's a question that is "probably too soon to answer," Clark told reporters Friday. The only retired four-star general in the race, Clark's 34 years in military service have defined his campaign from its early days. At almost every campaign event, Gen. Clark will stop, sometimes with jarring awkwardness in the midst of talking about Iraq, to ask the audience if any veterans are present and for them to please raise their hands so they can be recognized.
The General is in New Hampshire today through Friday with scheduled stops in honor of Veteran's Day. Clark Communications Director Matt Bennett told ABC News that Clark "feels like there's just not enough deference placed to people who served their country" and he "hopes to provide them with respect."
One staffer spoke about the strategy behind setting up the Veteran's Day stops: "We do things that put this guy in places where he can be passionate," and "he feels really passionate about veteran's affairs." Other campaign staffers pointed out that Clark is "the only Democratic candidate campaigning on Veteran's Day who's won a war" and anything related distinguishes The General from the candidates who "chose not to serve [in the military] for whatever reason."
Clark was recently asked if a military background is important to have as a candidate. "I think first-hand, practical leadership experience is important for the commander in chief," Clark answered. "And I think if you have that experience in foreign affairs, then it's even better. So I've been lucky, I have a lot of high-level, first-hand experience in foreign affairs."
Clark, however, is not being honored as of late by some other high-profile generals. What does he think about comments by Generals Shelton and Schwarzkopf that he would not make a good President? Clark said Friday: "I think it doesn't matter if you're generals or not, I think if you're going to speak about another person, you have an obligation to know something about the situation." He added that he didn't believe Shelton's comments have, or will, weigh heavily on his campaign.
"I don't think most Americans even know who General Shelton is," Clark said. "But I happen to like Hugh Shelton — I'm sorry he said that, because there wasn't a basis for it. If he has any specifics, I've invited him before to please discuss it, he hasn't. So, I have to assume there's nothing there. He may not have meant to say it, I don't know."
The General makes his first appearance on the late-night talk show circuit since announcing his candidacy, appearing on "The Late Show with David Letterman" Nov. 20.
Clark dismisses Dean support, thinks about matching funds
Nov. 10 — It seems like a positive break for the Clark campaign may take some time, but in the interim, The General's staff remains hopeful that by arguing union endorsements and money don't win the nomination or equal votes, they can convince their supporters that while Dean has the passion at the moment, "passion can't get you over the finish line."
Senior staffers told ABC News that Dean plays to the hearts of only partisan Democrats and, in the end, Dean's essentially "negative" and "a disaster waiting to happen." While Dean has the popularity in the North, Clark plays well in the South — the Clark campaign's peace of mind comes in thinking that if Dean wins New Hampshire and even Iowa, Clark could come in first in the Feb. 3 states, making this a two-man, Dean/Clark, race to the finish.
On a charter flight from Atlanta to Columbia, S.C., on Friday, Gen. Clark told a small group of reporters that he didn't know how the endorsements by SEIU and AFSCME for Dean would affect his campaign, saying that "the real impact is on other people, not me." Two Clark staffers said on background that while the campaign never thought Clark had a chance of winning the SEIU endorsement, they can say that their decision to pull out of Iowa lost them the AFSCME nod.
At the end of the day, it comes down to plenty of money. Something Howard Dean has, and Wes Clark wants. With almost daily fundraising events, the Clark staffers seem assured they will raise over $6 million at the end of the fourth quarter. A campaign source said the campaign could "live in New York and never do fundraisers" — a sign that the Clark campaign is feeling a'o.k. about their fundraising situation. And one Clark staffer told ABC News a decision about whether or not Clark will take matching funds could come as early as this week …
The campaign is also often quick to note that they have not spent money on advertising yet — although, presumably, the money is being teed up as we write. Last week in New Hampshire Joe Slade White was on the road with a photographer and staffers getting together the first ad for the Clark campaign. White was also in Little Rock this weekend — ABC News has been told to watch New Hampshire as the first market.
The Clark campaign will announce on a conference call today their newest Internet endeavor, The Clark Community Network, that will assign personal 'forclark.com' blogs to every registered user
A success strategy proposal
Nov. 6 — General Clark is set to deliver a policy speech this afternoon in South Carolina outlining his plan to protect American troops and bring peace to Iraq. He appeared live today on "Good Morning America," to preview the address, in which he'll say that the reconstruction of Iraq should be turned over to a non-American. ABC's Charlie Gibson asked, Do you want Paul Bremer fired? "Yes," Clark said, "he should come home."
An excerpt: "Every American should understand: early exit means retreat or defeat. There can be neither. We need a 'Success Strategy' — for it is only success that can honor the sacrifice of so many American men and women; it is only success that will allow Iraq to stand on its own; and it is only success that will allow our soldiers to come home."
Clark outlines his four-point "Success Strategy":
1) End sole American responsibility for the country by, among other ideas, creating an Iraqi Reconstruction Council to replace the Coalition Provisional Authority.
2) Provide better border protection, more intelligence sources, formidable Iraqi security forces, and secure ammunition.
3) Give Iraqis a stake in the country's success by transferring authority on an ongoing basis and by naming an interim Iraqi government with a constitution written by Iraqis.
4) Creating a New Atlantic Charter to "reinvigorate our security partnership with Europe."
The Clark campaign is planning what seems like the biggest fundraiser to date on Nov. 16 in Los Angeles at Morton's Steak House. The event chairs — producers Irving Azoff, Norman Lear, and Jordan Kerner, as well as hotelier and restaurateur Peter Morton — have just sent out the invitations.
Sources tell ABC News that the highlight of the evening will be a performance by members of the The Eagles, who are also named as co-chairs. Tickets are pricey — $500 if you're only there to catch the concert. Throw in dinner and cocktails and you're giving $2,000 to The General's campaign.
Clark hits spin room for the first time
Nov. 5 — ABC News has learned that the Clark campaign will soon announce the addition of Political Director Lara Bergthold. The Los Angeles native relocated to Little Rock as of Tuesday night to work in the Clark '04 campaign offices, reporting to Campaign Chair Eli Segal. Bergthold has been traveling with General Clark and his "road team" as an adviser since the first week in October, but has had no formal title until now. Before joining the Clark campaign, Bergthold was the co-chair of the Board of People for the American Way and the former executive director of Hollywood Women's Political Committee.
Last night marked The General's first time in the spin room following a presidential debate. And sticking with his "I won't criticize other Democratic candidates" mantra, Clark downplayed the Dean/Confederate flag issue.
Clark said: "I think it's very important we bring Southern voters to an understanding of differences between the two parties. And that the real differences are not on the sort of culture wars of litmus test issues like guns — I've got a lot of guns in my house, I've been shooting my whole life. The issue is, how do we work together to improve the lives of ordinary Americans." And then he added. "I'm against the divisiveness of the Confederate flag."
Clark communication director Matt Bennett, however, did not hold back on attacking Dean. During the debate, a Bennett statement was circulated in the press room that said Howard Dean, "was wrong when he refused to condemn the Confederate flag."
And Tuesday was all about The General being … well, hip. He raps, in fact, though his body man, Amad, says it sounds more like Sinatra than Tupac. At a closed press appearance yesterday, staffers say that The General rapped for a larger-than-usual crowd. When ABC News asked Clark's son, Wes Jr., if he has heard his father rap he answered, "yes, unfortunately."
A woman asked Clark last night if he's really an Outkast fan, like his 30-second spot suggested. His answer? "I can shake it like a Polaroid picture."
Clark imitates Rangel, gets ready to ski
Nov. 4 — We know about Clark The General and Clark the candidate, Clark the husband, and Clark the father. But did you know about Clark the impersonator? At a "Conversations with Clark" event in Keene, New Hampshire last night, Clark ended the event like any other — with the story of why he decided to run. But he added a new line while talking about the draft movement, saying Rep. Charlie Rangel was one of the many who called upon him to run.
In Rangel's deep, raspy voice Clark imitated the Congressman calling: "This is Sergeant Rangel. Where's my General?"
The General's son, Wes Jr., introduced his father at the event and did not seem surprised by his dad's comedic bit. Wes told ABC News that his dad does many impersonations including Slobodan Milosevic, President George H.W. Bush, and FOX newsman Bill O'Reilly.
Now that Clark is spending 50 percent of his time in New Hampshire until the January primary, he seems eager to hit the slopes. The General told a group of first responders at a dinner last night that he's looking forward to the snow and going up North to ski.
"I got my parabolic skis," he said. "I would consider it a duty day … going down the slope, shaking hands." But Clark may have to wait until after January — his campaign staff may not be too eager for their candidate to go downhill before the 27th.
Clark loses voice on Rock the Vote shoot
Nov. 3 — The "Rock the Vote" spots being done by each Democratic presidential candidate will actually run on CNN, not MTV as reported last week. Each candidate was asked to submit a 30-second spot to air during the CNN forum and since Clark didn't have any ads, his campaign produced something specifically for "Rock the Vote."
A music producer shot Clark's ad in downtown New York City last week. The spot shows Clark sitting around a table with a group of young folks, sleeves rolled up in a Dean-esque manner. He leans inward, talking to the group about foreign and domestic policy issues and … well, rock bands.
One campaign source at the taping told ABC News that The General was surprised by how many takes he had to do. At a campaign stop in New Hampshire the next day, Clark told a woman he lost his voice after shooting the ad.
In an another effort to appeal to the young voters, the spot ends with Clark bumping fists with one of the young men in acknowledgement of support.
Well, to answer your questions, no I would not have voted for an Iraq war. I didn't see an imminent threat with Saddam Hussein. I don't believe we should be using force unless it's an absolute last resort. I am pro-choice and I'm a strong believer in affirmative action-it's the right thing to do, it works. It's about the American idea of equal opportunity. And I don't care what the other candidates say-I don't think Outkast is really breaking up. Andre 3000 and Big Boi just cut solo records, that's all. (Bumping Fists with young man) I'm Wes Clark and I approve of this message.
You can see the ABC News advance copy of The General's spot at: LINK
Blackberrying from London
Oct. 31 — The Clark campaign's new senior foreign policy adviser, Jamie Rubin, is huddling with The General and his campaign to prepare for next week's foreign policy speech in South Carolina. Rubin told ABC News that he will now divide his time between London and the Clark campaign — 10 days on the campaign physically in Little Rock or on the road with Clark; 10 days off and back in London.
But while Rubin will never be fully off the campaign at any time (thanks to the wonders of the Blackberry and the conference call), he still doesn't consider himself a full-time staffer; he's accepting the campaign position pro bono. Rubin says he got to know Clark during the "Bosnia/Kosovo issue."
Asked about The General's position on Iraq, it took Rubin about four minutes straight to get through it, telling ABC News that it's not an answer that "lends itself to quick sound bites."
ABC News has learned that beginning Monday, MTV will begin running promos featuring all nine Democratic presidential hopefuls for its joint "Rock the Vote" forum in Boston Tuesday. Clark shot his segment in New York City Wednesday morning in what we're told is an entertaining spot — described by one source who saw it as "a General Clark you may not expect."