The Magazine

Drafting General Clark

From the September 1 / September 8, 2003 issue: Another slippery candidate from Arkansas.

Sep 1, 2003, Vol. 8, No. 48 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
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According to National Journal's politics Hotline, Clark recently told an "adviser" to "crank up" grass-roots efforts in preparation for a Labor Day campaign announcement. Clark's message was also reported in the Boston Globe. But in the Globe report, Clark's "adviser" was said to be volunteers involved with the Draft Clark efforts. Susan Putney, New Hampshire coordinator of "Draft Clark 2004," says the message "didn't come to us directly," but "when he said it, we picked up on it right away." If Clark communicates with what might soon become his campaign staff, that's nothing to be ashamed of. Why does he pretend otherwise?

Clark's message to the Draft Clark movement isn't the only signal that he's moved closer to announcing his candidacy. Clark cancelled his gig as a military-affairs talking head on CNN in June, neutralizing any potential conflict-of-interest accusations. And while Clark's letter to the New York Times only further muddled his story (if he wants to be president, Clark is going to have to get better at dissembling on his feet), it was still a valiant attempt at damage control.

What happens if Clark enters the race? If he fails to capture the nomination, his supporters say the general would still make an attractive vice presidential candidate. Especially if the top of the ticket is someone who needs to burnish his national security credentials--someone like the current governor of Vermont. Get your "Dean-Clark 2004" bumper stickers ready.

Matthew Continetti is an editorial assistant at The Weekly Standard.