Clark for President
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Leadership for America   The Clark Coalition (umbrella site) 
WesPAC - Securing America's Future

On September 17, 2003 in Little Rock, Arkansas, General Wesley K. Clark (ret.) entered the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.  Little more than four months before the first-in-the-nation Iowa precinct caucuses, Clark joined a field of nine Democratic candidates who have been crisscrossing the country, raising money, and building campaign organizations since the beginning of the year, in most cases following upon many months of preliminary activities.  On the day of Clark's announcement, for example, Gov. Howard Dean, the perceived frontrunner, was making his 46th visit to New Hampshire since the beginning of 2002 and spending his 58th day in the state.  Dean had also made at least 32 visits to Iowa, totaling 66 days. 

Clark brought impressive credentials to the race.  He served 34 years in the U.S. Army, rising to the rank of 4-star general and NATO Supreme Allied Commander.  In 1966 he graduated first in his class from the United States Military Academy at West Point.  A Rhodes Scholar, he earned a Master's degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Oxford University.  He served as an infantry officer and company commander in Vietnam and was wounded in action.  In July 1997 Clark became Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), and his military career culminated with the prosecution of NATO's war in Kosovo, where a 78-day aerial bombing campaign forced Slobodan Milosevic to withdraw his forces from Kosovo. 

Following his military career, Clark penned Waging Modern War (Public Affairs, 2001).  He joined Stephens Inc., an investment banking firm, and served as a commentator for CNN.   He formed Wesley K. Clark & Associates, a strategic advisory and consulting firm, and Leadership for America, a 501(c)(4) organization "dedicated to fostering the national dialogue about America's future." 

The first talk of a possible Clark bid appeared on October 14, 2002 when the website decribed a visit Clark made to the Granite State.  Months later, several Draft efforts appeared. launched on April 4, 2003.  At the outset it encouraged people to write letters urging Clark to run, then it ran radio and later television ads in New Hampshire, and by mid-September generated pledges totaling more than $1.5 million in the event Clark opted to enter the race.  The Draft Clark 2004 for President Committee ( opened a headquarters in Little Rock, Arkansas and a field office in Dover, New Hampshire and developed a national network of regional coordinators.  Dozens of Internet sites and blogs sprang up, ranging from an Alabama for Clark site to a Wisconsin for Clark site. Michigan attorney Regina Mullen launched a Blacks 4 Clark site.  The author of a Latinos for Clark site wrote that "creemos que el General Wesley Clark sería un candidato fantástico para todos los americanos y también para los hispano-americanos."

Throughout this period Clark remained coy about his intentions, while making his interest in a presidential bid clear.  In June appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press" Tim Russert asked Clark directly if he were running for president. Clark responded, "I'm going to have to seriously consider it."  At that time Clark had not even declared which party he belonged to, a step which he took on September 3.  On September 16, Clark met with top advisors in Little Rock, setting the stage for his September 17 announcement. [reactions]

Clark faced a significant challenge catching up in money and organization, and it was unclear how well he would fare with labor and other Democratic constituency groups.  His lengthy military service played into his favor in the context of the war against terrorism.  The fact that he was not a politician and had not been campaigning for months upon end offered an appeal voters to fed up with politics as usual. 

Clark was able to build a top notch organization in part picking up many of the people who had worked on Sen. Bob Graham's campaign.  He campaigned under the theme of a "New American Patriotism."  The  Clark campaign brought in $3.5 million in contributions in just two weeks following his announcement and another $10.3 million in the final quarter of 2003.  However, in October he had decided not to compete in the January 19, 2004 Iowa caucuses.  Despite intensive campaigning in New Hampshire, he finished a distant third with 12.43 percent of the vote.

The Clark campaign had an organization in about a dozen states, and he won the February 3, 2004 Oklahoma primary.  He announced his withdrawal after finishing third in the February 10 primaries in Tennessee and Virginia.  He endorsed Sen. John Kerry on February 13 and actively campaigned on his behalf.  In April Clark launched WesPAC - Securing America's Future to help elect Democrats to the White House and Congress.  Clark's speech to the Democratic National Convention was very well received, and he continued to work on Kerry's behalf into the fall campaign.

Website launched Sept. 17, 2003.  Upgraded website, latter part of Sept. 2003. Dec. 5, 2003 content much expanded.

ABC News "Field Notes: Inside the Clark Campaign" Deborah Apton  >

Elizabeth Drew.  "Waiting for the General"  The New York Review of Books.  November 20, 2003. >

Tom Junod.  "The General." Esquire.  August 2003. >

Speeches and Texts
Democratic National Convention, FleetCenter, Boston, Massachusetts, July 29, 2004.
Farewell Remarks (As Prepared), Little Rock, Arkansas, February 11, 2004.
Democratic National Committee Fall Meeting, Washington, DC, October 3, 2003.

Announcement Speech, Penick Boys and Girls Club, Little Rock, Arkansas, September 17, 2003.
Webcast to the Draft Movement, September 17, 2003.


Official Website

Site launched early June 2003.

The Draft Movement
Site launched April 4, 2003. Intermediate look (June 18, '03) Redesigned site August 2003.
Interview with John Hlinko | Images
See also ads.

(Site on June 18, 2003)
See also interview with Susan Putney and photo of Dover, NH office (July 5, 2003).

(Site on June 18, 2003)

Copyright © 2003, 2004  Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action