Retired general Wesley Clark, the newest entrant in the Democratic presidential race, used an appearance last night in Fort Dodge to counter concerns about his party credentials. Clark appeared at a 90-minute-long forum hosted by Senator Tom Harkin, and before answering questions from the crowd, Clark spoke for over half an hour, outlining some of his ideas for change, giving more details about his personal story, and stressing his newcomer status. Clark says he’s pro-affirmative action, pro-choice, pro-environment, pro-labor, pro-health, pro-education, and pro-jobs and decided he was either “going to become the loneliest Republican in the country or a happy Democrat.” And Clark discounted the votes he cast, while he was in the military, for Presidents Nixon and Reagan. He says he voted and says if you’re lucky, your vote gets counted. He says after what he heard in Florida, he’s not sure if his votes ever got counted. But a questioner in the crowd still asked Clark to defend his democratic credentials. The audience member questioned whether Clark was really a Republican disguised as a Democrat. Clark called it an honest question. Clark said he made a “reasoned decision” to become a Democrat. Clark said it wasn’t about how long he’s been in a party, it’s about what he believes that makes him a Democrat. Last month, a couple of days after jumping in the race, Clark delivered a previously-arranged foreign policy lecture at the University of Iowa, but last night was his first extended campaign appearance in Iowa. Clark says the latest polls show him winning in a head-to-head matchup against President Bush, and Clark says if things continue on that track, Bush will need brothers in 49 other states — in addition to Florida where his brother Jeb is Governor — to win the race in 2004. In other campaign news, Florida Senator Bob Graham dropped out of the race last night. Graham had opened a campaign office and hired staff in Iowa, but Graham said he got in the race too late and wasn’t able to raise enough money.
You are here: / / Clark answers questions about his party affliation in Fort Dodge