Clark Waffles On War

Retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark, right, greets supporters after speaking to delegates at the Arkansas Municipal League state convention in this file photo from Friday, June 20, 2003, in Little Rock, Ark. Clark is still mum on whether he will seek the presidency, but he finally revealed his political affiliation as a Democrat on Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2003. AP

Retired Gen. Wesley Clark said he "probably" would have voted in favor of the congressional resolution authorizing the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

The Democratic presidential candidate's remarks came during an interview on Thursday with four reporters. According to the New York Times, a moment after indicating his probable support for the war, Clark seemed to waffle on the issue.

"I don't know if I would have or not. I've said it both ways because when you get into this, what happens is you have to put yourself in a position — on balance, I probably would have voted for it," the newspaper quoted Clark as saying.

Clark told the reporters that his views on the war are similar to those of Sen. John Kerry and Sen. Joe Lieberman, both of whom voted for the war resolution but are now critical of President Bush's handling of the conflict, the Washington Post reported.

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, the Democratic frontrunner, has staked out a strong anti-war position that has resonated with many Democrats.

The former NATO commander also said he would oppose Mr. Bush's request for $87 billion unless the president comes up with a detailed plan to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq.

Clark, who has no experience in politics, said he had "probably" voted for Richard Nixon in 1972, and had supported Ronald Reagan in 1980 and 1984.

Clark said he began considering himself a Democrat in 1992, when fellow Arkansas native Bill Clinton ran for president.

"He moved me," Clark said of Mr. Clinton, according to the Post. "I didn't consider it party, I considered I was voting for the man."

In a related development, Clark announced that he will participate in next week's Democratic presidential debate after all.

Democratic National Committee spokeswoman Debra DeShong said Clark's campaign confirmed that he will be at the party's debate on economic issues next Thursday in New York City.

Clark was scheduled to give a paid speech on the day the nine other candidates will debate. Clark's aides had said he might have to miss the debate to honor his commitment. He was criticized by rival campaigns, who said Clark should change his schedule to lay out his position on economic issues.

Clark, a retired four-star general who was head of the U.S. Southern Command and NATO commander during the 1999 campaign in Kosovo, declared his candidacy Wednesday in his home town of Little Rock, Ark.
  • Joel Roberts

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