Clark is mixing more retail politics into his schedule this week, stopping at local lunch places, hoping to connect to voters. His schedule has on it roll-outs of endorsements--most Notably, former Mayor David Dinkins of New York City, set to endorse Clark via conference call on Wednesday.
It's all about New Hampshire for the campaign--surrogates like Jamie Rubin and Wes Clark Jr. will campaign in other primary states, but advance staff and Little Rock "big wigs" remain perched by The General's side. And as new Kerry signs pop up along South Willow Street in Manchester (one's like "Doubting Dean? Vote Kerry."), it is clear that there is no "Dean alternative" to speak of in New Hampshire. Rather, a group of three candidates hovering around three top spots. Among the other big challenges for the campaign? Not letting Clark lose his voice again as it becomes raspier with each campaign stop.
But Clark continues to stay on-message saying he's running a campaign where it's a two man race between him and Bush, not his Democratic opponents. At a State of the Union town hall Tuesday night at the Palace Theater, Clark addressed the crowd speaking vehemently about Bush before retiring to the side of the stage to watch the State of the Union. In the dark you could see Clark giggle at one point, yawn at another--but all the while, taking Notes ferociously on what the President had to say. Later in the evening, Clark went so far as to call the President a "divisive and polarizing character."
The New Race: The General vs. The Lieutenant
MANCHESTER, N.H., Jan. 19 - Wes Clark stopped by a local pizza place to pick-up pies for staffers before heading to the Manchester Clark '04 headquarters to make calls to supporters, go live with Larry King, and hold a presser about the news of the day - a.k.a. Kerry's first place finish. Press crowded into one of the offices watching about five television monitors as networks predicted the outcome of the Iowa caucus. In the main room, volunteers pretended to work on campaign mailings. For most of the evening, Clark sat with staffers in an office as press and volunteers mulled around, looking at pagers and blackberries and yelling out numbers. But when it was time for Clark to speak, he made it clear: It seems the two-man race Clark spoke of just last week between him and Dean has shifted to a two-man race between him and Kerry…so Clark thinks.
Eli Segal and other Clark staffers seemed perplexed by the Kerry, Edwards, Dean finish and the Gephardt pull-out as they floated around the office, listening to TVs report the latest numbers. "I think it's the same race," Clark told press just before 10:00 pm in a press availability. "I've got to go out and communicate with voters in New Hampshire whether it was Dean or Edwards or Kerry."