Wesley Clark Signals 2008 Presidential Bid

It looks like Wesley Clark is running again for president.

Wesley Clark said Tuesday he wants to avoid waiting too late to make a decision on whether to run for president — a mistake he made in his failed 2004 bid. “I think it was clear that I got in too late last time,” the retired general and former NATO commander told The Associated Press in an interview.

Clark announced his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in September 2003, just four months before the first votes were cast. He dropped out of the race the following February, with his only victory in 14 caucuses and primaries coming in Oklahoma.

Clark is considering running again, but he said the late start was one of the mistakes he learned from in his last attempt. “(There was) an inability to create a staff in a timely fashion,” Clark said. “I didn’t have a campaign manager until the end of November. I had no money. I had no strategy when I started. It was my only faith-based initiative…. It’s one of several mistakes that if I were to run that I would hope I wouldn’t repeat.”

Interestingly, the Democratic field looks to be shaping up as Hillary Clinton versus a bunch of folks who have run before an failed: Al Gore, John Kerry, John Edwards, Joe Biden, and now Clark. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that. Indeed, several recent presidents have gotten elected after having previously failed in primary (Bush the Elder and Reagan) or general election (Nixon) bids. Indeed, it will be even more difficult than usual for someone without name recognition to break through against that field.

This may be bad news for the Democrats, though, as none of these candidates are governors and only Gore is a former vice president. It has been a long time, indeed, since someone who was not from one of those groups got elected president. And Wes Clark is no Dwight Eisenhower.

via Paul Glastris

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Jeff says:

    I just thought about that one point, from what I can recall, JFK was the last President to not have been VP or Governor before taking office.

  2. James Joyner says:


    Yep, that’s right. That’s 46 years and 12 elections ago!

      04: Bush 43 – Sitting pres, TX Gov
      00: Bush 43 – TX Gov
      95: Clinton – Sitting pres, AR Gov
      92: Clinton – AR Gov
      88: Bush 41 – Sitting VP
      84: Reagan – Sitting pres, CA Gov
      80: Reagan – CA Gov
      76: Carter – GA Gov
      72: Nixon – Sitting pres, fmr VP
      68: Nixon – fmr VP, failed ’60 nominee, failed CA Gov run
      64: Johnson – sitting pres, fmr VP
      60: Kennedy – sitting Sen.
      56: Eisenhower – sitting pres
      52: Eisenhower – retired 5-star general, war hero
      48: Truman – sitting pres, fmr VP
      44: FDR – sitting pres, NY gov
      40: FDR – sitting pres, NY gov
      36: FDR – sitting pres, NY gov
      32: FDR – NY gov

    Basically, two exceptions in over 70 years!

  3. Maniakes says:

    You can go all the way back to Grover Cleveland’s second term with only two more exceptions (Hoover and Harding).

    28: Hoover – Sitting Cabinet Secretary
    24: Coolidge – Sitting President, Former VP, Former MA gov
    20: Harding – Sitting sen., former Ohio Lt Gov
    16: Wilson – Sitting pres, former NJ gov
    12: Wilson – Former NJ gov
    08: Taft – Former Gov of Phillipines
    04: TR – Sitting pres, former VP
    00: McKinley – Sitting pres, former Ohio gov
    96: McKinley – Sitting Ohio gov
    92: Cleveland – Former pres, NY gov
    88: Harrison – Sitting sen
    88: Cleveland – Sitting NY gov

  4. Tano says:

    Gee, if the future is always like the past, then the odds are against a non-gov.

    Unless (as we say in baseball) the non-governors are due.

  5. Eric Gray says:

    Yes Wes Clark is better than Dwight Eisenhower. The man is solid! He in many ways is the best choice for President in both parties!