Clark, who is running as a Democrat, enters an already-crowded field of contenders seeking to defeat President Bush in 2004. While the other eight Democratic candidates are seasoned politicians, Clarks 2004 campaign marks his first attempt at public office.
Although he declared his candidacy less than one month ago, Clark is already gaining public support, raising about $3.5 million dollars during the first two weeks of his campaign.
As Clarks campaign spokesman, Kym Spell, stated in an Associated Press report, Clark received donations from 21,000 people, with contributions averaging $167. The former general brought in about $250,000 a day. While democratic hopefuls Howard Dean and John Kerry have raised more money than Clark, about $15 and $5 million dollars, respectively, Clarks ability to raise a substantial sum in a short period of time is noteworthy because it reflects the fact that he is gaining support, and fast.
Why then, has Clark, whose campaign is still in its infancy, been able to capture the support of so many Americans? With a campaign motto which calls for New American Patriotism, Clark believes that the policies of the Bush administration, especially with regard to the economy and health care, are not beneficial for the future of this country. The platform has certainly helped Clark to attract voters, but the element truly impressing the American public is his military leadership record.
Like other candidates seeking the Democratic nomination, Clark has spoken out against the policies of Bush, and the war in Iraq. Unlike his counterparts, however, Clark possesses more than three decades of military experience.
After graduating first in his class at the United States Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., Clark attended Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship.
He then endured a lengthy career in the U.S. Army, where he served as NATO Supreme Allied Commander 1997-2000.
Although other Democratic candidates declare themselves anti-war, Clark has actually dealt with international conflicts, such as the situation in Kosovo, when he was the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO.
Furthermore, Clark believes that war should only be employed as a last resort. As Representative Charles Rangel of New York, wrote in a statement of support on Clarks campaign website: he is a former military man who understands the costs of war and the necessity of the cooperation of the international community. While it is clear that no one not Republicans, Democrats, Greens nor Independents likes the prospect of going to war, Clark has the military experience necessary to command the Armed Forces if necessary, while striving to achieve peace through diplomatic means.
The Presidential elections are still more than one year away, Clark is a uniqe candidate. But can a man who has never held public office be successful in the nations highest post?
And does Clark have the support to defeat Democratic front-runners such as Howard Dean and John Kerry? Ultimately, these questions will remain unanswered until next November, but as voters especially Democrats look for a candidate who can ensure the safety and freedom of the American people, support for Clark will continue to build.
In a race which features, among others, a former governor, an accomplished senator, and other long-time politicians, Clark provides something different: military expertise. With his devoted service and leadership in the armed forces, Clark has proven himself a man determined to work hard to defend his country. Clark does not require gimmicks like landing on an aircraft carrier to demonstrate his patriotism; 34 years of military experience speaks for itself. As the nation continues its War Against Terrorism and works to rebuild Iraq, Clarks military background and his message of New American Patriotism resonates with many American voters.