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Clark says he won't be vice presidential nominee

Wesley Clark, seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, said he would not run as vice president.
Wesley Clark, seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, said he would not run as vice president.

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• The Candidates: Bush | Kerry
Democratic Party
George W. Bush
New Hampshire

(CNN) -- Presidential hopeful Wesley Clark said Sunday he absolutely would not accept a nomination to run as vice president on the 2004 Democratic presidential ticket.

"I'm running to be the president of the United States, not the vice president, and I will not accept that nomination," Clark said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

The former NATO supreme commander and retired U.S. Army general also said he had not asked former President Bill Clinton for his endorsement, but would be "honored to accept Bill Clinton's endorsement after I win the nomination."

Saying Clinton was "a terrific president," he told NBC that he is "not concerned with downsides with Bill Clinton."

Clark continued his assault on President Bush's policies in Iraq and Afghanistan, again saying the shift in focus from the war on terrorism and hunt for Osama bin Laden to Iraq and Saddam Hussein was "a mistake."

A Clark administration, he said, would have pursued a strategy of removing the Taliban from power and capturing bin Laden and the other al Qaeda leadership without being diverted to a lesser issue.

On the domestic front, Bush, he said, is pursuing a "radical, heartless, right-wing agenda" for the United States that the American people neither need nor want.

Avoiding direct attacks on Democratic front-runner Howard Dean, Clark agreed that the former Vermont governor lacked foreign policy expertise and added that "at this time" the Democratic party can't afford "to field a candidate who can only deal with the (domestic) challenges" facing the nation.

But, he said, if the foreign policy expertise of President Bush qualifies him to be president, "then any of the Democratic candidates are more qualified."

Clark was not participating in Sunday's Democratic debate in Des Moines, Iowa, and was not campaigning for the January 19 Iowa Caucuses -- instead focusing his attention on the New Hampshire Primary set for January 27.

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