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Wesley Clark may announce for presidency next week

From Jonathan Karl
CNN Washington Bureau

Retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark
Retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Wesley Clark has begun building a campaign organization and several people close to the retired general told CNN Thursday they expect him to announce next week that he is running for president.

Clark has discussed his potential campaign with presidential candidate Howard Dean, the liberal antiwar former Vermont governor who, according to Dean campaign officials, asked Clark for his support.

According to one source familiar with the conversations, the two men discussed the vice presidency. But Dean campaign officials said such talk is premature and those close to Clark expect him to run for president, not vice president.

"I think he's going to run," said Skip Rutherford, a Clark friend and the executive director of the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock. "Impressive people are coming forward offering to work on his campaign, run his campaign and consult his campaign."

Several Democratic sources said Clark -- Supreme NATO commander during the war in Kosovo -- has begun the process of putting together a campaign team, including talking to potential campaign managers.

"There is a lot of momentum here," said one former high-level Clinton administration official who has talked to Clark about a campaign. "It's 90-10 that he runs, but he has not pulled the trigger in his own mind."

Gore campaign veteran Mark Fabiani, who is advising Clark on the possible presidential campaign, cautions that Clark has not yet made a final decision.

"He's doing the kind of things you'd do if you are going to run. He's doing what he needs to do to put himself in a position to run," Fabiani said. "He'd be a great candidate, but at this point it's theoretical."

Clark is returning home to Arkansas Friday to talk to his family. Clark has said that his wife, Gertrude, has reservations about a presidential campaign but will support him in whatever decision he makes.

--CNN Senior Political Researcher Robert Yoon contributed to this report


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