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January 24, 2004
Clark Tanks in Debate, Blames ... Republicans

General Wesley Clark, after his mediocre showing in Thursday's debate, blamed the alleged Republican bias of the moderator for his performance:

Presidential candidate Wesley Clark on Friday complained that one of the moderators in Thursday night's debate was carrying out a Republican agenda by questioning his Democratic credentials. Brit Hume of Fox News Channel, who worked as both moderator and questioner during the two-hour debate with the seven candidates, pressed Clark about when he had first realized he was a Democrat. Clark told reporters Friday, "I looked at who was asking the questions, and I think that was part of the Republican agenda in the debate."

Perhasps Clark hasn't realized this yet, but the office for which he is running is President of the United States, not DNC party chairman. That means that everyone has a stake in finding out as much as possible about the philosophy and policy goals of the candidates. The debate audience is not limited to Democrats. Besides, isn't one of Clark's arguments for the nomination that he can attract Republicans to his campaign, based on his military record and national-security policies?

And what was so biased about asking Clark, who registered as a Democrat after he entered the race, why he thought he was a Democrat? As Fox News spokesman Paul Schur said, Clark has been asked repeatedly about his party affiliation during the campaign, and he and his staff should have anticipated the question and had a better answer ready:

"This is not the first time General Clark has been questioned about his party affiliation," Schur said. "His handlers should spend their time on more constructive things, such as trying to come up with reasons for the general's slippage in the polls."

The truth is that Clark has been damaged by a series of misstatements, especially on abortion, where he stated that he favored abortion up until the moment of birth. Add to that his assertion that lobbyists make America safer (based on his time as a lobbyist for Axciom) and that 9/11 was not only preventable but that he would guarantee that there would be no terrorist attacks during his Presidency, and you get the picture of a man who is either not all there or who lies through his teeth. And now that John Kerry broke out of the pack in Iowa, no one needs Clark any more to be the un-Dean. Expect the thin-skinned Clark to drop to a distant third or even fourth in New Hampshire, if Edwards can make a run there.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 24, 2004 9:03 AM

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