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Comments by YACCS
Thursday, August 28, 2003

Did they really say that?

There is a holy shit moment in this article. I'll point it out to you in a moment.

General Is Said to Want to Join '04 Race

WASHINGTON, Aug. 27 — Wesley K. Clark, the retired four-star general who has been contemplating a run for president, has told close friends that he wants to join the Democratic race and is delaying a final decision only until he feels he has a legitimate chance of winning the nomination.

The addition of General Clark into the presidential campaign could shake up a race that has remained fairly static for months, with Dr. Dean, Mr. Kerry and Representative Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri showing greater traction than the others running: Senators Bob Graham of Florida, Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, John Edwards of North Carolina, Representative Dennis J. Kucinich of Ohio, former Senator Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois and the Rev. Al Sharpton.

While some contenders view General Clark more as a running mate than presidential threat, his credentials could pose problems for several of them. As a former military officer, he would sound at least as credible on national security matters as Dr. Dean. As a Southerner from Little Rock, General Clark might blunt the appeal of Mr. Edwards and Mr. Graham in the South.

And as a Vietnam veteran, he would temper a prominent theme of Mr. Kerry's campaign, that he is the only Democrat running to have served in combat.

But almost all the other Democrats have financial and organizational advantages over General Clark. He has done almost nothing to prepare for a nationwide campaign or even one centered in the early test states, Iowa and New Hampshire. A spokeswoman, Holly Johnson, said his only political activity had been traveling the country, giving speeches

Excuse me, I thought the White House said Dean was the liberal pansy who was a friend of Saddam Bin Laden.

This is a big deal quote because it means that Dean's national security arguments are making headway.

The draft Clark people say they can raise a million, but given his poll numbers and Dean's really large lead in money, Clark would have to spend a LOT of time raising money. Late entries aren't done any more because of the ground work done by the campaigns early in the process. The pledges won't be enough. I don't like late entries into races unless they really add something to the mix. Richard Reeves is talking about Hillary Clinton, other people are talking about Clark. I think both won't meet the reality test. Hillary Clinton is regarded as evil by the right and the first ad would be her promising to serve out her term. Clark would need a staff and millions he isn't going to get.

Popularity is illusive. Poll numbers change. Hillary may seem a dream candidate, but what Southern state would she win? None? Imagine the ads and the attacks. Clark? His peers have sharp words about how he ran EUCOM. There's a bunch of folks, starting with David Hackworth, and going way beyond him, more than willing to attack Clark's character. Read the Halberstam book about the Clinton-era Pentagon. He does not come off well. It may not be fair, but it's politics.

Let's get real: we have a two person race and that may end pretty quickly. We have Kerry and Dean and everyone else is suffocating slowly. Lieberman and Edwards, moribund. Graham and Gephardt, staggering to defeat. Kuchinich, Mosely-Braun, Sharpton, irrelevant. You can add more people in, but that's stupid. If it's going to be Dean, and his money speaks very loudly and is a clear vote of confidence, Clark will not stop him. Hillary can, but she would have to convince people that with three years in the Senate, she should be President.

Remember one thing about political reporters: they don't know what happens in the room with the candidate. They think they do. But they don't. Do yourself a favor, pick up four books on politics. Ed Rollins' memoirs, Boys on the Bus, recently reissued, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 and the Begala/ Carvillebook on campaigns. You will then know more than most political reporters do.

So when you read me, and I don't agree with the Times, or WaPo, remember this: I've been in the room and they haven't. Once you're in that room, your world view changes.

posted by Steve @ 2:03:00 AM

2:03:00 AM

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