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Wesley Clark on Principles & Values

NATO General; Democratic Candidate for President


Met wife Gert at a 1964 Navy dance that cadets crashed

[At a Navy dance that I crashed with some other cadets, I met a young lady]. I learned her name was Gertrude Kingston, or Gert for short. We talked and danced, and as she was leaving I invited her to come up to the swimming team picnic the next weekend at West Point. She said, ‘Maybe.’ But she also gave me her telephone number. It was a beginning, and it has lasted forty-three years.
Source: A Time To Lead, by Wesley Clark, p. 58-59 Sep 4, 2007

Father, Benjamin Kanne, died when Wes was 4 years old

In December 1948, I was not quite four years old, and I remember waking up in the middle of the night, then walking around the apartment. There were a lot of adults standing around there talking, but I didn’t know what was going on. I wanted to go into my parents’ bedroom, but the adults wouldn’t let me. Just a few hours earlier, my daddy had laid down on the blue and green sofa and pulled me up alongside him to read to me. Now something was wrong.

I wasn’t taken to the funeral. I later learned that when Benjamin Kanne died of a heart attack at age 51, he left his good name, a diamond ring, a 1940 Buick, and about $400 in cash. But that was about it. There was no insurance, no trusts, and no other property. My dad had died and left my mom and me pretty much alone. At the age of 42, my mom was a widow with a 4-year-old son to support. She got back her old job as a secretary in the bank, and I was shuttled off to a nursery school for eight hours a day.

Source: A Time To Lead, by Wesley Clark, p. 18-19 Sep 4, 2007

Discovered father’s Jewish heritage at age 23

I got a phone call [when I was 23] from someone named Molly Friedman, a woman who claimed to be my cousin. She asked me if I had ever heard of any Jewish roots in my family. I was completely surprised by this, but I didn’t really know much about my biological father’s background, so I told her that it might be possible.

I was Jewish! Well, not really, my cousins explained, because to be Jewish by descent your mother has to be Jewish. But still... I rolled the idea around in my mind, and it was stunning. I had a family with a past, at last. And a family to be proud of, a family that had courage and determination, a family that had made its way in a new land.

I was proud of them. And I was proud of my ethnic heritage, too, as I thought about the gallant soldiers of the Israeli Defense Force & how they consistently won, outnumbered by hostile neighbors. I thought about the ethic of kibbutz & what I knew of Israel. Yes, it felt right to me. I felt complete, somehow, in a way I hadn’t before.

Source: A Time To Lead, by Wesley Clark, p. 79-80 & 84-85 Sep 4, 2007

US needs to reclaim its values and vision

I believe in an America that lives not in fear but with confidence. And draws its inspiration, not just from past glories, but from knowing that we have the power to realize our greatest hopes and dreams if only we’re true to our own values.
Source: Speech at Democratic National Committee winter meeting Feb 2, 2007

WesPAC endorses 13 candidates for Senate and Governor

In addition, WesPAC endorsed 79 candidates for US House and numerous candidates for statewide offices besides Governor.
Source: PAC website, www.SecuringAmerica.com, “WesPAC Endorsed” Nov 7, 2006

WesPAC endorses 69 candidates for House

Candidates for US House endorsed by Clark’s WesPAC:
  • Eric Massa NY29
  • Nancy Boyda KS2
  • Victoria Wulsin OH2
  • Stephen A. Harrison NY13
  • Gabrielle Giffords AZ8
  • Glenn Melancon TX4
  • Paul Hodes NH2
  • Diane Farrell CT4
  • Coleen Rowley MN2
  • Ellen Simon AZ1
  • Darcy Burner WA8
  • Dr. David Hunter OK5
  • Dan Maffei NY25
  • Kirsten Gillibrand NY20
  • Ed Perlmutter CO7
  • Judy Feder VA10
  • Dr. Steve Kagen WI8
  • Lukin Gilliland TX23
  • Mary Beth Harrell TX31
  • Mike Callaghan WV2
  • Scott Kleeb NE3
  • Chris Murphy CT5
  • Chet Edwards TX17
  • Nick Lampson TX22
  • Dr. Selden Spencer IA4
  • Bruce Braley IA1
  • Angie Paccione CO4
  • Carol SheaPorter NH1
  • Harry Mitchell AZ5
  • Patty Wetterling MN6
  • Will Pryor TX32
  • Joe Donnelly IN2
  • Tessa Hafen NV3
  • Rep. Melissa Bean IL8
  • Tim Mahoney FL16
  • Paul Aronsohn NJ5
  • Jill Derby NV2
  • Jerry McNerney CA11
  • Leonard Boswell IA3
  • Patricia Madrid NM1
  • Francine Busby CA50In addition, WesPAC endorsed 28 “Fighting Dem” candidates.
    Source: PAC website, www.SecuringAmerica.com, “WesPAC Endorsed” Nov 7, 2006

    WesPAC endorses 28 “Fighting Dem” candidates for House

    In addition, WesPAC endorsed 41 other candidates for US House.
    Source: PAC website, www.SecuringAmerica.com, “WesPAC Endorsed” Nov 7, 2006

    Preserve the separation of church and state

    Q: Should there be, in your judgment, some kind of a compromise so people who believe in the Ten Commandments, or people of the Jewish faith who want to put something out there that reflects their faith?

    A: We need to preserve the separation of church and state. Kids in school should have the opportunity to pray voluntarily. We have to be sensitive to other people in this country.

    Source: Democratic 2004 primary Debate in Greenville SC Jan 29, 2004

    Day 1: Implementation five-point Turnaround Plan for America

    Q: After the inauguration, what would be your first action as president?

    A: I will begin immediate implementation of my five-point ‘Turnaround Plan for America.’ The plan consists of five specific policies that will reverse the disastrous course President Bush has set for America on the economy, education, health care and the environment. The plan also establishes five concrete ‘accountability benchmarks’ that the American people can use to hold me accountable for my promises.

    Source: Associated Press policy Q&A, “DAY 1” Jan 25, 2004

    I’m in the party now and I want to bring in new people

    Q: Your Democratic Party credentials in this race do matter to many within the party

    CLARK: I voted for Bill Clinton & Al Gore. When I got out of the military, I looked at both parties. I’m pro-choice, pro-affirmative action, pro-environment, pro-labor I was either going to be the loneliest Republican in America or I was going to be a happy Democrat. My wife & I spent our entire time in the uniform taking care of people. That’s what the Democratic Party does. And that’s what I want to do as president. I’m in this party now, and I’ll bring a lot of other people into this party, too. That’s what we need to do to win in November.

    Q: Do you look, then, at your lack of experience within the party itself as an asset?

    CLARK: Well, I’ve got a lot of experience in leadership. I’ve never run for elective office before, and in the military, most of us were never members of a political party. But I think what matters in this party is the clarity of your ideas and the strength of your convictions.

    Source: Democratic 2004 Primary Debate at St. Anselm College Jan 22, 2004

    I’ve praised Republicans-I hope they praise me when elected

    Q: You said in an article in the Times of London as the war ended, “Liberation is at hand. Liberation, the powerful balm that justifies painful sacrifice, erases lingering doubt and reinforces bold actions.” As to the president, you wrote, “Pres. Bush & Tony Blair should be proud of their resolve in the face of so much doubt.” Could not a reader conclude that you did indeed support this war and were pleased by its outcome?

    CLARK: No. If you look at the whole article, I lay out a whole series of tasks that have to be done later on. And it’s written in a foreign publication. I’m not going to take US policy and my differences with the administration directly into a foreign publication. But I made it clear in the article that they’ve got to focus now on the peacekeeping, the occupation, the provision of order. I did not support this war. I would not have voted for the resolution. But once American soldiers are on the battlefield, then I want them to be successful and I want them to come home safely.

    Source: Democratic 2004 Primary Debate at St. Anselm College Jan 22, 2004

    West Point taught practical leadership

    Q: Please describe your West Point experience.

    A: West Point was a challenging experience! I did bring a lot to the experience in terms of academic preparations, leadership, and attitude, but I was also given a lot. We had wonderful role models in our assistant professors, great classmates who were capable, smart and idealistic, and the entire West Point experience taught practical leadership. I don’t think I could have had a better start in my professional life!

    Source: Concord Monitor / WashingtonPost.com on-line Q&A Nov 5, 2003

    Abandoned Iowa primary because of late entry

    Q: Many of my fellow Iowans are upset with your decision to “abandon” Iowa.

    A: I regret that there wasn’t time to compete in Iowa caucuses. Please don’t forget about me. I’ll be there in Iowa, and very much want your support. I just couldn’t put in the time to be there personally that the other candidates have invested, because I started so late. I just ask for your support, and will be coming from time to time.

    Source: Concord Monitor / WashingtonPost.com on-line Q&A Nov 5, 2003

    As a southerner, can bring the country together

    Q: Why do you think Democrats from outside the South are no longer elected president, do you think of yourself as a Southerner?

    A: The Republican Party has had a long record of using fear and divisive policies to gain support from many in the south. I am a southerner, and I can bring the country together in a way that no one else can. The south is patriotic-so am I. The south respects people who like the outdoors-I do. And the south respects its native sons. I am one.

    Source: Concord Monitor / WashingtonPost.com on-line Q&A Nov 5, 2003

    Incredible journey from Bush supporter to Democrat

    Q: On May 11, 2001, you addressed the Republican Party Lincoln Day Dinner in Arkansas. You expressed your support for Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, his staff and Cabinet, and indicated they were needed in place. Do you believe it now?

    CLARK: I think it’s been an incredible journey for me and for this country since early 2001. We elected a president we thought was a compassionate conservative. Instead we got neither conservatism or compassion. We got a man who recklessly cut taxes. We got a man who recklessly took us into war with Iraq.

    I was never partisan in the military. I served under Democratic presidents, I served under Republican presidents. But as I looked at this country and looked which way we were headed, I knew that I needed to speak out. And when I needed to speak out, there was only party to come to. I am pro-choice, I am pro-affirmative action, I’m pro-environment, pro-health. I believe the US should engage with allies. That’s why I’m proud to be a Democrat.

    Source: Debate at Pace University in Lower Manhattan Sep 25, 2003

    Different kind of Democrat-without strong partisanship

    Clark portrayed himself as a different kind of Democrat, one without strong partisan impulses. He said he “probably” voted for Richard M. Nixon in 1972 and backed Ronald Reagan. He did not start considering himself a Democrat until 1992, when he backed fellow Arkansan Bill Clinton. “He moved me,” Clark said. “I didn’t consider it party, I considered I was voting for the man.” Clark said the country “will not function well” with one party controlling the White House and Congress.
    Source: Jim VandeHei, Washington Post, p. A5 Sep 19, 2003

    Would not rule out vice presidency

    Clark said that as recently as last week, former president Bill Clinton and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) both encouraged him to run, as did many of their close friends. He said the former president initially was cool to the idea but warmed to it as the draft-Clark movement grew. Clark said he never discussed running with Sen. Clinton on the same ticket, however. Clark, who discussed the vice presidency with Dean at a recent meeting, said he would not rule out taking the No. 2 slot on a ticket.
    Source: Jim VandeHei, Washington Post, p. A5 Sep 19, 2003

    Bush abuses executive power as much as Nixon did

    Clark compared Bush to Nixon in abusing his power to bully Congress and US allies. “This is an administration which has moved in a way we have not seen any administration since Nixon to abuse executive authority to scheme, manipulate, intimidate and maneuver,” Clark said.
    Source: Jim VandeHei, Washington Post, p. A5 Sep 19, 2003

    The 100 Year Vision: physical and legal environment

    Looking ahead 100 years, the US will be defined by our environment, both our physical environment and our legal, Constitutional environment. America needs to remain the most desirable country in the world, attracting talent and investment with the best physical and institutional environment in the world. But achieving our goals in these areas means we need to begin now. Environmentally, it means that we must do more to protect our natural resources, enabling us to extend their economic value indefinitely. Institutionally, our Constitution remains the wellspring of American freedom & prosperity. We must retain a pluralistic democracy, with institutional checks and balances that reflect the will of the majority while safeguarding the rights of the minority.
    Source: Campaign website, AmericansForClark.com, “100 Year Vision” Sep 18, 2003

    30-year challenges: provide social framework

    If we are to remain competitive we will have to do more to develop our “human potential.” To put it in a more familiar way, we should help every American to “be all he or she can be.” For some this means only providing a framework of opportunities - for others it means more direct assistance in areas such as education, health care, and retirement security. And these are thirty year challenges.
    Source: Campaign website, AmericansForClark.com, “100 Year Vision” Sep 18, 2003

    Ask questions to hold Bush accountable

    We’ll ask questions and hold this administration accountable Why has America lost jobs? [Why has the budget] surplus turned to a deficit that deepens every day? Why has our country lost our sense of security? Why are so many here in America hesitant to speak out and ask questions? We’re going to ask those hard questions. And in a time of war, we’re going to ask those questions in the highest sense of patriotism. We are going to hold the administration accountable for its policies and results.
    Source: Candidacy announcement speech, Little Rock AR Sep 17, 2003

    Americans need straight talk, not fear and divisiveness

    I intend to seek the presidency of the United States of America. You [in the Draft Clark movement] took an unconceivable idea and made it conceivable. But many things are possible today because we do live in historic times. Since Hoover’s presidency our economy has cost us more jobs For the first time since 60s, Americans are concerned about civil liberties, fighting overseas. For the first time since the Cold War Americans don’t feel safe in their homes and workplaces. We are going to run a campaign that will move this country forward, not back. And we’re gonna talk straight to the American people because in times of great change, the people should be able to hear the truth in plain and simple language. We are gonna bring people together in the great tradition of the Democratic party. I mean all people, not just Democrats, but independents and Republicans too. And especially those who have never participated before.
    Source: Candidacy announcement speech, Little Rock AR Sep 17, 2003

    Talk straight to the people in times of great change

    I intend to seek the presidency of the United States of America. You [in the Draft Clark movement] took an unconceivable idea and made it conceivable. But many things are possible today because we do live in historic times. Since Hoover’s presidency our economy has cost us more jobs For the first time since 60s, Americans are concerned about civil liberties, fighting overseas. For the first time since the Cold War Americans don’t feel safe in their homes and workplaces. We are going to run a campaign that will move this country forward, not back. And we’re gonna talk straight to the American people because in times of great change, the people should be able to hear the truth in plain and simple language. We are gonna bring people together in the great tradition of the Democratic party. I mean all people, not just Democrats, but independents and Republicans too. And especially those who have never participated before.
    Source: Candidacy announcement speech, Little Rock AR Sep 17, 2003

    Neither party has a monopoly on strong leadership

    Q: Is the country more comfortable in times of crisis with a Republican president?

    A: I think that’s a Republican party mantra. The Democratic party has been the more internationalist party. We led US engagement abroad. But neither party has a monopoly on strong leadership. It’s time to put the ghost of Viet Nam behind us and be part of the world. We’re at a turning point and I don’t want to see a clash of civilizations. We need to create allies instead of creating enemies.

    Source: The Connection with Dick Gordon, NPR radio Sep 8, 2003

    Leadership based on experience & fighting for little people

    Q: How would you differentiate your leadership from the other 9 candidates?

    A: All the other candidates are fine people. My leadership background is: 1) I’ve got experience. 2) I make tough decisions. 3) I fight not only for the big people but for the little people. We looked after families, school systems, and everything for our troops. I’ve got a good combination of skills in foreign policy as well as in the issues that affect everyday lives. But it’s up to the American people to judge.

    Source: The Connection with Dick Gordon, NPR radio Sep 8, 2003

    Candidacy about national security going wrong

    I’m considering this candidacy because a lot of people have asked me to consider it. It’s about the issues. I saw it starting to go wrong before the 2000 election. [The Bush national security team] didn’t support our engagement in Europe-US troops were the only ones who could kill people and conquer countries [instead of] keeping the peace. So I saw it going wrong from there. Then, as the administration took office, I saw more and more what I believed were misunderstandings and missed opportunities.
    Source: Newsweek, “The Last Word” interview Jul 9, 2003

    Considered 2002 AR gubernatorial run against GOP incumbent

    Clark votes Democratic. In Arkansas most voters enroll with no party affiliation; you show up on primary day and select the ballot of whichever party you want to support. Clark told me he voted in the Democratic primary in last year’s state elections. He seriously considered seeking the Democratic nomination for governor of Arkansas in 2002, challenging Republican incumbent Mike Huckabee.
    Source: The American Prospect, “Meet Mr. Credibility” Mar 1, 2003

    Other candidates on Principles & Values: Wesley Clark on other issues:
    Nominees:
    GOP: Sen.John McCain
    GOP V.P.: Gov.Sarah Palin
    Democrat: Sen.Barack Obama
    Dem.V.P.: Sen.Joe Biden

    Third Parties:
    Constitution: Chuck Baldwin
    Libertarian: Rep.Bob Barr
    Constitution: Amb.Alan Keyes
    Liberation: Gloria La Riva
    Green: Rep.Cynthia McKinney
    Socialist: Brian Moore
    Independent: Ralph Nader
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    Energy/Oil
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    Foreign Policy
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    Govt. Reform
    Gun Control
    Health Care
    Homeland Security
    Immigration
    Infrastructure/Technology
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    Principles/Values
    Social Security
    Tax Reform
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    Page last updated: Dec 07, 2008