During an appearance in Mason City Wednesday, retired General Wesley Clark saluted those who are protesting the war in Iraq. Clark, a Democrat who ran for president in 2004 and opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq, says Americans can still be patriotic and criticize the Bush Administration. “You don’t have to agree with the President to be patriotic in our country and especially when our country is at war, sometimes your most patriotic duty is to speak out and make your voice heard,” Clark says. “That is what we must do.” Clark says he supports people like Cindy Sheehan, the so-called “peace mom” who held vigil outside President Bush’s Texas ranch. “My heart goes out to Cindy Sheehan and I think she’s dead right to be calling for George Bush to come out and explain what he did because I don’t think there was any reason for it,” Clark says. “I said at the time it was a war that didn’t have to be fought. It was a strategic blunder…After two years, (Bush) still doesn’t have a winning strategy and I want to tell you that we Democrats have to say it. We have to say it with authority and we have to say it with love for our country and with love in our hearts and that is patriotic.” Clark’s also critical of the overall Bush Administration response to the attacks of 9/11. The U.S. can’t “kill our way out” of terrorism, according to Clark. “if you want to talk about winning the war on terror, you’ve got to talk about persuading people who might not like us to change their minds. It’s about listening. It’s about dialogue first and it’s about force only, only, only as a last resort.” After his remarks, Clark refused to answer reporters’ questions about whether he’s interested in running again for president.