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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Wesley Clark Declares Candidacy for President

Aired September 9, 2003 - 13:15   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: All right, live pictures from Little Rock, Arkansas. As you know, we are awaiting former General Wesley Clark to step up to the podium. Today's the day that he is supposed to make the official announcement that he will be running for the presidency.
You can see him there, screen left, next to his wife, getting ready, as he's introduced. First, it was by representative Marion Berry of Arkansas, and now former senator David Pryor introducing the former NATO supreme commander.

Judy Woodruff is in Little Rock. She's had many chances to speak with Wesley Clark. She's monitoring the event also. What have you heard so far, Judy, leading up to this official -- actually, here we go. Let's listen in.

(APPLAUSE)

GEN. WESLEY CLARK, FMR. NATO SUPREME COMMANDER: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I like that. The West Wing, I like that. Great signs. Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you so much for being here. My family, Gert, Wes, Astrid, Senator David Pryor, Congressman Marion Barry, the boys and girls club members on stage here with me, and all of you from Little Rock, Arkansas, all over America, thank you so much for coming here today and being with us.

(APPLAUSE)

My name is Wes Clark. I am from Little Rock, Arkansas.

(APPLAUSE)

And I'm here to announce that I intend to seek the presidency of the United States of America.

(APPLAUSE)

Well, for my family and me, it's been a long journey from Little Rock, from West Point, to Vietnam, 34 years in the United States Army, through war in the Balkans, back to Little Rock for business. And I'm proud to have made that journey, proud to have served my country in uniform, and proud to be back home today in Little Rock.

(APPLAUSE)

Now we're talking about a new journey. This is a journey I couldn't begin without all of you, my friends and family, high school classmates, business colleagues, close, personal friends, from all over the state, and especially I want to recognize the hundreds of people who are here because of the draft Clark movement. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

You took an inconceivable idea, and you made it conceivable.

(APPLAUSE)

But many things are possible today, because we do live in historic times. For the first time since Herbert Hoover's presidency, a president's economic policies have cost us more jobs than our economy has had the energy to create.

For the first time since the 1960s and early '70s, more than 100,000 American troops are fighting abroad, and once again, at home, Americans are concerned about their civil liberties.

(APPLAUSE)

For the first time since the Cold War, many Americans no longer feel safe in their homes and workplaces.

These are historic times. And we're going to run a campaign that's worthy of the historic times in which we live. We're going to run a campaign that will move this country forward, not back.

(APPLAUSE)

And we're going to talk straight to the American people, because in times of great historic challenges, the American people deserve to hear the truth and hear it in plain and simple language.

(APPLAUSE)

And in this campaign, we're going to bring people together in the great tradition of the Democratic Party, because now we need leaders, more than ever before, leaders who will put the best interests of all our people first.

(APPLAUSE)

And when I say we're going to bring people together, I mean all our people, not just Democrats, but independents and Republicans, too.

(APPLAUSE)

And especially those who have never participated before, you'll come with us.

(APPLAUSE)

Now I warn you, we'll ask the tough questions as we move forward and we'll hold this administration accountable. Why has America lost 2.7 million jobs? Why has America lost the prospect of a $5 trillion surplus and turned it into a $5 trillion deficit that deepens every day? Why has our country lost our sense of security and feels the shadow of fear? why has America lost the respect of so many people around the world?

That's the questions we're going to be asking, and one more -- why, why are so many here in America hesitant to speak out and ask questions? Well, we're going to ask those hard questions, my friends, and we're going to demand the answers. But we're going to do so not in destructive bickering or in personal attacks, but in the highest tradition of Democratic dialogue. We're going to seek out the facts to search for the causes, to find the solutions, and in questioning and proposing alternatives, we're going to reach to the very essence of our democracy.

(APPLAUSE)

And in a time of war, we're going to ask those questions and propose those alternatives in the highest sense of patriotism.

(APPLAUSE)

So we are going to hold the administration accountable for its policies and the results. But let's remember, the results belong to all of us, each and every one of us. They're the foundation on which we must build anew. And in this campaign, we'll lay out a plan to restore the millions of jobs that have been lost and restore our economic opportunities again.

(APPLAUSE)

We'll work out how to deal with the historic deficits created by this administration, deficits that will kill jobs and burden children. We'll find a way to restore safety and security for America and a sense of security for every American.

In this campaign, we're going to travel the country. We're going to meet, listen, learn, and grow. We're going to take the concerns of ordinary Americans, their diverse talents, and bring together a vision of the way ahead.

In the coming weeks, I'll have delivered a major speech outlining my vision for the economy and a vision for our national security. And I hope that these speeches and my entire campaign will generate the kind of frank, honest, open public debate this nation deserves.

(APPLAUSE)

Let's recognize who we are. We are Americans, and we have extraordinary promise and we live in a time of extraordinary promise. We're the strongest nation in the world. We don't have to fear. We're the leading economy in the world. We can create jobs. We're a military without peer, and we're proud of our armed forces and our veterans.

(APPLAUSE) We've got a heritage of democracy, the rule of law, and respect for the rights and dignity of each and every individual that make America the envy of the world. And I think, to put it in business terms, we're diverse, energetic, practical, and innovative. This 21st century is going to be our American century just like the 20th century was.

(APPLAUSE)

And together, we're going to march forward. Forward with the new vision. Forward to bring our children and grandchildren into a future, brightened by hope, courage and our determination that we can do better. We will do better, and we will do it together.

(APPLAUSE)

So that's our campaign. We're firm in our intent. We're clear in our purposes. We're mustering the resources, building the nucleus, drawing in the support of people from all across this great land. We're under way and moving forward. We need your help here in Little Rock, in Arkansas, and across America. But I want to reach out especially to those in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina...

(APPLAUSE)

... and everywhere across America -- get ready, we're moving out.

Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

PHILLIPS: There you have it, Wesley Clark has begun his charge for the White House. The 58-year-old Clark is the 10th Democrat now to join the race to unseat President Bush. You just heard him say it to his supporters, they made an inconceivable idea to a conceivable one. Now how will he do? We know the military side already. But the rest of Wesley Clark is pretty much a mystery.

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