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Ex-NATO chief mulls presidential bid

Clark hopes to make a decision about a run for the presidency in two months.
Clark hopes to make a decision about a run for the presidency in two months.

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Retired Gen. Wesley Clark said Sunday he will decide whether to run for the presidency within two months, but would not disclose which party's nomination he would seek.

"I'm going to have to consider it," he told NBC's "Meet the Press."

Asked whether he would like to be president, the retired four-star general and NATO's former supreme commander said, "In many respects, I would like a chance to help this country.

"I don't know if that means being president or doing something else," he said. "But I've spent my entire life in public service, except for the last three years, and it's very hard not to think in terms of the welfare of the country.

"And when you see the country in trouble, in challenge, yes, you'd like to pitch in and help."

Clark, a Rhodes scholar and West Point graduate, voted in the Democratic primaries in his home state of Arkansas, where he is a Little Rock investment banker.

Clark told "Meet the Press" he had not considered challenging President Bush directly in the Republican primaries or accepting a vice presidential slot on a ticket.

So far, no Republicans have stepped forward to challenge Bush for the party's nomination.

Last year, Clark endorsed Democrat Max Cleland of Georgia, a fellow Vietnam War veteran, for re-election to the U.S. Senate against Republican challenger Saxby Chambliss. Cleland lost.

Time magazine, quoting sources, reported in November that Clark had met in New York City with several top Democratic donors and fund raisers and told them he was serious about possibly running for president.

At least two grassroots groups have created Internet sites to persuade Clark to run. The two groups said the Democratic Party should recruit and nominate Clark because of his experiences with issues involving national security.

start quoteWhen you see the country in trouble, in challenge, yes, you'd like to pitch in and help.end quote
-- Wesley Clark

"Wesley Clark has a distinguished record of service to our country and a keen understanding of the security challenges facing our nation," the Draft Clark Web site reads. "Clark champions the progressive social principles in line with our Democratic ideals."

But a crowded Democratic ticket includes nine hopefuls:

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, Sen. Bob Graham of Florida, Rep. Richard Gephardt of Missouri, Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois and civil rights activist Al Sharpton.

Clark was NATO's supreme allied commander from 1997 to May 2000 and once served as the commander in chief of the U.S. European Command.

In 1999, he commanded Operation Allied Force, NATO's military action in the Kosovo crisis.

Clark later wrote about his experiences in "Waging Modern War." He was one of CNN's military analysts and served as a commentator for CNN during its coverage of the U.S.-led war in Iraq.


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