Q&A Exclusive: Wes Clark On Marching Forward

Gen. Wesley Clark, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander and 2004 Democratic presidential candidate, is in Colorado today as part of his countrywide quest to promote former military personnel to elected offices.

Clark is no stranger to Colorado; during his 34 years in the United States Army, he has twice called Colorado Springs home, and has also spent considerable time in Dillon and Aspen. This year he is supporting Democrats Bill Winter, who is running against Republican Rep. Tom Tancredo, and Jay Fawcett, running in the open 5th CD race that includes El Paso and five surrounding counties.

We caught up with Clark this week to talk about his efforts, being conducted through his Securing America Political Action Committee. He doesn’t mince words… “We have to stand as a nation, we have to look to the Declaration of Independence,” said Clark. “We need to stand for humankind, equality of opportunity, believing in those in society who are least capable and taking care of each other, respecting others and reinforcing our allies, without making enemies with the rest of the world.

“We must respect each others’ values, families, spirituality, ensure all are treated equally without distinguishing characteristics…”

CC: That’s a tall order.
Clark: That’s the minimum.

CC: What are you hoping to accomplish with your work this year?
Clark: I’m looking for good guys who will carry the banner of what our values should be to Congress, particularly people like Jay [Fawcett], who has served in the military. What you’re seeing all across America – it’s not a partisan thing, it’s about people understanding that it’s a critical time in American history, and the brightest and most capable have to step forward and serve their country. Democrats are standing up all over the country to say that, ‘we Democrats have faith, we have values, we have principles.”

CC: How closely have you been following this year’s GOP race in the 5th CD in Colorado, and the politics in El Paso County?
Clark: Colorado Springs has changed a lot since I lived there. When we got there in ’79 it was the first of the building booms. Then we watched it start to go high-tech, and then the Savings & Loan [scandal] started. We left in ’88, and about that time the Religious Right came in. I remember hearing about Focus on the Family in the early ’80s, and its founder, James Dobson, seemed thoughtful and not so acidic as he is today.

CC: There is much talk about the western states, traditionally red, turning purple. Colorado is certainly in that category. How much time will national Democratic leaders spend in the western states, addressing western issues, over the next two years?
Clark: I’ve met a lot of great people in Colorado, and the colors red or blue don’t do justice to the sophistication of the people who live there. They are fair minded and thoughtful. They are dealing with the effects of global warming, and are having to live with it. They take a respectful view of other peoples’ opinions. It’s very important for Democrats to reach out there.

CC: Finally, I have to ask, what are your thoughts on what is happening between Lebanon and Israel, as well as in North Korea?
Clark: You’re seeing the evidence of the failure of the Bush Administration’s approach to foreign policy. In North Korea, we should have been talking to them long ago – and not painting them as part of the axis of evil. In Lebanon, we should have been part of the peace process and implementation … instead of sitting back and taking a detached view. We are a preeminent power, and people look to us. We need responsible and farsighted foreign policy that lets us shape for outcomes – not just for our interest, but for our friends and allies around the world.

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Cara Degette

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