Clark is mulling a run for president at the urging of the Arkansas Democratic Party, which has been pushing him to travel to Iowa and New Hampshire for months. Clark is expected in New Hampshire within the week to meet with Democratic Party faithful.
After watching Clark on TV on Sunday, DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe was said by associates to be calling all over Washington and elsewhere touting Clark as a sure-fire winner for Democrats. “He’s going to be our Colin Powell,” says a gushing DNC staffer. “He’s our Schwartzkopf. What voter wouldn’t listen to him and then feel more comfortable voting for a Democrat over Bush and his team? This guy solves all the problems about doubts we can handle national security issues.”
Party people doubt Clark can successfully run for president, but already there is DNC spinning that Clark is almost assuredly a natural “short list” leader for Vice President and will be talked up constantly for a high profile role in any Democratic White House.
Even with snow tumbling down in Washington on Sunday morning, campaign advisers for Sen. John Kerry and Rep. Dick Gephardt were looking for ways to get Clark speaking about the security issues and failings of the Bush team under their banners. But Clark most likely won’t allow himself to be used as a pawn.
He’s already spoken extensively to former President Clinton about how to play the political game, and he didn’t get to his position in the military without knowing how to play that game well, already.
Rather, Clark will most likely begin appearing in Washington and elsewhere at the behest of the Democratic leadership in the House and Senate and on behalf of the DNC at appropriate events where his expertise seems a natural fit.
“We have to use him carefully,” says the DNC source. “We don’t want him to appear too politically ambitious, too political. If he sticks his neck out too far, the American people might view him as simply another politician. We can’t afford that if we want him to help us in 2004.”p> HEINZ CATCHUP
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