The summer rumor mill is working overtime with all kinds of fantasy 2004 ticket predictions and no one's name has popped up more on those lists then charismatic southerner General Wesley Clark's. The frequent CNN military analyst, former 4-star general and NATO Supreme Allied Commander is often listed as the Dem's dream VP. The reality is that Clark is poised to announce his bid for the top spot.
No less than Democratic get-out-the-vote guru Donna Brazile, made a bit of a "pre-announcement" the other day. Given her vast connections, Brazile no doubt speaks with informed speculation. Particularly given that Clark has sought advice from Brazile.
Further setting the table for a Clark bid, Clark himself ratcheted up his critique of President Bush's bungling of Iraq and Afghanistan in past few days. Clark also stepped down as an analyst for CNN - further raising the stakes. Clark reportedly privately called supporters of his candidacy and told them to "crank it up."
Clark has seen a groundswell of support from regular everyday Americans. But, of course, Clark is not short on big time, connected friends. In fact, some report that the vaunted Clinton fund-raising machine will leap into action to assist the General's campaign.
It now appears that the former Rhodes Scholar, (he studied economics at Oxford) who finished first in his class at Westpoint, is about to get a big boost from more Democratic heavyweights. Today this report was published that Clark will announce "backed by powerful members of the United States Congress."
With growing concerns over this mishandling of Iraq, the bungling of Afghanistan, Bush's dropping the ball on finding Bin Laden, letting the Taliban reform, and a strong yearning for true leadership in the war on terror, Clark will be a force. Clark will speak credibly on the economy as well. (pointing to all the unemployed Americans won't be too hard anyway!) This month's Esquire - read by all those coveted Nascar Dads, young professionals, and thirty-something "guy's guys" - anoints Clark as the man who can beat Bush.
Clark may not finish at the top or even high in the NH and Iowa primaries, where there are strong anti-war activist networks who will be wary of voting for a former General. But, Clark doesn't need to win NH or Iowa. As a political novice, expectations will be low to start, but you can take it to the bank that he'll be among or at the top on Super Tuesday when a broader spectrum of Democratic supporters will go to the polls. Supporters in his native Little Rock are lobbying for Clark's home state of Arkansas to move up its primary to give Clark an early victory to build momentum. And, when the Big Dog officially comes out for Clark most of the traditional Democratic base will coalesce into a formidable field army for the General. Clark will also pull in droves of swing-voters, independents, and significant numbers of "McCain Republicans." Bush's dirt machine led by Karl Rove will try to sling mud at Clark, but Bush's dwindling numbers will expose the dirty tricks as desperate acts.
You'll see Clark run a positive campaign in the primary built on his integrity and credibility on attacking Bush on security and foreign affairs by offering real alternatives and solutions. Clark will not slice up his opponents like the knife fights between Lieberman vs. rest of the field and Kerry vs. Dean. And, once he knocks them out of the race, don't be surprised if Clark doesn't tap John Edwards and Dick Gephardt for posts in his shadow cabinet, Attorney General and Labor respectively. Bob Graham of Florida is a possible Homeland Security chief, but he will likely run and win a third term in the Senate. Former Clinton UN Ambassador Richard Holbrooke is a possible Secretary of State, or possibly even George Mitchell.
Now, here's my big prediction...Clark will tap fellow southerner Mary Landrieu to be his running mate! The Louisiana Senator, is a strong woman with military and foreign policy credentials and southern charm to make this one heck of a 1-2 punch. And, she proved she can beat the Bush/Rove spin machine. Tell me that doesn't make sense. Mark it down that you heard it here first! (ok, maybe second or third - but early for sure!!)
Of course, if he doesn't run, Clark will make one heck of a VP candidate for someone...
Update question...could Howard Dean be Clark's #2 guy?
Another Update: article in the Boston Globe on Clark...I like how the author used the almost exact ending line as me!! :)