ABCNEWS' Deborah Apton was on the trail with retired Gen. Wesley Clark as he ran for president. For all of her reports, scroll down.
There are days and there are days …
MEMPHIS, TENN., Feb. 10 — Gen.Clark's presidential campaign ended on Tuesday night just one week short of the five-month mark, making it the shortest run of all the Democratic hopefuls. And, just as Clark left press and supporters guessing last September whether he would or wouldn't run, he kept people guessing whether he would or wouldn't drop out. After delivering a "neither here nor there" speech to a group consisting mostly of Little Rock, Ark., staffers and supporters who migrated into Memphis, Tenn., Clark shook a few hands and headed for the door. Confused by the situation I asked Clark, "Are we still going to Wisconsin tomorrow?" His answer said what we'd later confirm was true: "We'll talk about everything tomorrow."
And tomorrow it is. At 3:00 pm ET, Clark will speak at the Peabody Hotel in Little Rock, Ark. and say what staffers confirmed the night before — that his stint in this race has ended.
While Clark spent the morning of his last day on the trail campaigning around Memphis, stopping cars in the street to yell, "I need your help," Clark's traveling staff spent the last day with cameras in hand, snapping last-minute shots. And then there was the press, who spent the day guessing whether the next stop on the Wes Express was The Rock or Wisconsin.
The Clark communications staff spent most of the day under wraps, leaving press without a chaperone for a three-hour bus ride, as well as before and after Clark's speech. To find out what was going on after a blasé speech by Clark, reporters decided to congregate outside the hotel suite where communications staff sat. At least 20 journalists, including those from CBS, CNN, the New York Times , the Boston Globe , Newsweek, and the Washington Post , stood waiting for somebody to tell them something. Twenty-five minutes later they got communications director Matt Bennett, who ultimately broke the news.
For Clark, who spent late Tuesday evening at dinner in Memphis with his wife, Gert, and son, Wes II, the experience has been one he surely won't forget. But while Clark became schooled the ways of politics and the stump speech, there are some things he never learn, like facing the cameras in press avails. Whether he comes back as a running mate is still unknown, according to Bennett.
On Wednesday at 8:30am The General, his family, staff and press will drive to Little Rock, Ark. Clark is not scheduled for any television or radio before the concession speech.
To Win or Not to Win …
RACINE, Wis., Feb. 8 — Flying to and from Wisconsin on Sunday there are less press and less staff with The General. A smaller plane forced some staffers to fly ahead to Nashville, leaving only Clark's trip director and press secretary to fly alongside him. Some traveling press have taken off for the weekend and will be meeting up come Monday. All in all, it's quiet and somewhat calm in the face of the packed schedule. Clark is laughing, eating popcorn and drinking grape juice — all the while seeming relaxed in the face of questions about his future. It seems he's not backing down from the "fight."