Clark visits DePauw - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Clark visits DePauw

Greencastle, September 23 - An enthusiastic college-town crowd greeted Wesley Clark as the Democratic presidential candidate on Tuesday visited one of the most-reliable of Republican states in national elections.    

The mix of students and area residents who made up the crowd of about 2,700 people at DePauw University interrupted the retired Army general with applause several times and many people waved
blue-and-white "Draft Clark" signs.

Clark, who entered the 2004 presidential race last week, said the United States needed a new strategy for handling issues both at home and abroad, starting with rebuilding relationships with its
allies and the United Nations.

"How dare someone say you're either with us or against us," Clark said. "We're not going to be safer by building walls around our country. We have to build bridges."

Clark touched on issues such as the economy, education and health care during his 45-minute speech, but did not give specifics. He said he would lay out his economic platform during a speech Wednesday in New York.

In response to a student's question, he said that beyond the "current crisis" regarding terrorism and the war in Iraq, the country's top problem was unemployment and that job-creation would be his top priority as president.

Paul Bowen, minister of Greencastle's First Baptist Church, called Clark brilliant but said he would be looking for Clark to begin giving details on what he would do as president.

"You can stand up here and talk in generalities, but the question is how is that all going to work," Bowen said.

No Democratic presidential nominee has won in Indiana since Lyndon Johnson in 1964, and perhaps DePauw's best-known graduate is former Republican Vice President Dan Quayle.

Clark earlier Tuesday said he had doubts about whether President Bush's speech Tuesday at the United Nations would help gain much international support in the Iraqi reconstruction effort.

Clark said he did not believe Bush had treated U.S. allies and the U.N. with the proper respect.

"Now he has gone to them and asked them for help, and it's not surprising it's been difficult for him to get the kind of support for our country that we need," Clark said.

Clark, along with Democratic Sens. John Kerry and Joe Lieberman, were in a virtual tie with Bush in head-to-head matchups in a national poll CNN-USA Today-Gallup released Tuesday.

"As I traveled around the country in the days before I announced, I kept feeling this enormous hunger for straight-talking leadership," Clark said. "And I think the American people are beginning to understand that it is not going to come from this administration. They're looking for new leadership. I think the poll numbers reflect that."

Clark, who was NATO commander during the 1999 campaign in Kosovo, has never held political office.

Last week, Clark reversed an earlier opinion that he likely would have voted for war in Iraq, telling a cheering crowd in Iowa that the invasion was "a major blunder" he never would have supported.

"I've been against the war from the beginning," he said Tuesday. "I never saw the imminent threat."

The DePauw speech, scheduled weeks ago, is part of the university's Timothy and Sharon Ubben Lecture Series.

Officials at the private school of 2,300 students about 40 miles west of Indianapolis would not reveal how much Clark was being paid for his speech, but he has received about $30,000 for other recent speaking engagements.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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