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Wesley Clark Drops Out of Presidential Race

Aired February 11, 2004 - 15:28   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Wesley Clark, his farewell speech, Little Rock, Arkansas.


WESLEY CLARK (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I always knew we could have a great rally in Little Rock. And I tried to tell those people, get us back here so we can have a rally.


CLARK: Well, thanks a lot to all of you for coming out this afternoon.

And, as Gert said, we've done a lot in the last five months. We've been to more than 30 states. And I can tell you for certain that there's no state like Arkansas.



CLARK: There's no city like Little Rock. And there's no place like home.


CLARK: But I want to begin by thanking all the foot soldiers in the battle. This is the terrific staff we've had, our dedicated volunteers, our thousands of loyal supporters.

And, most of all, I want to thank those who believed in me long before the people who drafted me into this race, the thousands who joined together to enlist me to serve, everyone from students to congressmen. And it was a tremendous honor, and it was a call to duty.

But you proved to me that a general can do great things when he has the greatest troops in the world. And I can't tell you how honored and how humbled I am by your commitment, your spirit and your sacrifice. Because, with all of you, this has been every bit as much a cause as it has been a campaign.

And I want to thank my family, especially, for standing by my side, my wife of 36 years. She's my best friend. She's my partner, and she is the general's general. And I wouldn't be here today if it weren't for her.

And I want to thank my son Wes and his wife Astrid, because they've done an awful lot for the campaign, and he's been a great campaigner out there. He's a young man who knows who he is, and he knows what he stands for. And he's not afraid to tell people. And of course, I'm really proud of them for making me a grandfather.

Now I want to applaud John Kerry, John Edwards and Howard Dean for running good campaigns. They're good men. They're good Democrats. And they're real patriots. And our country is well served by John Kerry, John Edwards, and Howard Dean, and I applaud them.

When I got out of the Army, I said the fight was just beginning. I didn't know what I meant when I said it. But I had this incredible feeling that, once out of uniform, that I'd get to see the country. I'd get a chance to speak out.

And so five months ago, just a few miles from here, we began our journey. This was a journey for the presidency.

It began with what I called the four no's: no money, no staff, no position papers, and a candidate with no political experience. And all we really had was hope, a lifetime of experience in leadership, and a vision for America.

And today after traveling across the country, after visiting with so many people, we have decided we're going to end this phase of this journey, even more full of hope and even more committed to building a better America.

So this is the end of the campaign for the presidency. And it's not the end of the cause. Because the real cause is a campaign for America's future, for the future of all our families, and the future of every American. And that's a campaign and a cause that will continue. It continues on for all the hard-working Americans that we've met across the country these last few months.

I'll never forget Emery (ph), South Carolina. I met a mill worker who lost his job, but he came out to see me because he believed in his country and he wanted to make it better for his children.

And in Nashville, Tennessee, I met a woman whose daughter has been sick for years. She can't even afford to pay for the doctor or her medication, but she brought her out to see me.

And in Manchester, New Hampshire, I met a woman whose husband is an Army reservist, who's been away in Iraq for more than a year. She came out in two-degree weather to see me because she's worried sick about her husband and is struggling to care for this 6-month-old child.

Now these are the faces of the American struggle. The faces that are too often invisible, and the voices that too often go unheard.

They deserve a strong party, a strong political party to carry their hopes. They deserve a party committed to their lives. And there is no party more committed to them, no party more committed to the American people than our party, my party, the Democratic Party.

And I know we've got some Republicans here, and I've got nothing against the Republicans. But I am proud to be a Democrat.

You know, the Bush administration's had three years to get the country moving again. But it hasn't. It's actually set us back.

We've had three million lost jobs, and year after year there's promises that more millions of jobs will be created this year. We saw those promises again yesterday.

And there are a lot of promises. But what we've got is three million lost jobs. We've got exploding deficits. We've got 44 million Americans without health insurance.

And to me, most personally, we've got our armed forces bogged down in the wrong war. A war we didn't have to fight. I saw it in the campaign in 2000. I saw it after the campaign in 2000 moving forward. I saw George W. Bush and a flawed foreign policy.

And I believe that we must challenge George W. Bush on that foreign policy, because it's not only flawed, it is fatally flawed.

Now I want to make it clear, I am not an anti-war general. I've been in enough of them, and enough peacekeeping operations, I know how it's done. I love the men and women who served. And I believe that military power and military strength are essential ingredients for a safe, strong, and prosperous America.

But I am not anti-war, but I'm pro national security. And what's...

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Fifty-nine-year-old Wesley Clark, ending his quest for the presidency.

He got into this race last September in Little Rock, Arkansas. He's back in Little Rock, his home state of Arkansas today to announce he is pulling out after a disappointing showing in yesterday's primaries in Virginia and Tennessee.

After all the contests, Clark was able to win just one, in Oklahoma. He won that very closely.

We just heard him say this has been every bit as much a cause as a campaign. And he says the cause continues to change America, to change America and bring it stronger leadership.

Wesley Clark ending -- the retired general ending his campaign for president.


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