Wesley Clark on the Campaign Trail

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."

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