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BREAKING NEWS:    On Friday, General Clark challenged the Bush Administration's failure on a growing number of national and global security blunders. Read the full speech.
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Clark '04 Meetup

Speeches
Announcement Speech

Wesley K. Clark

September 17, 2003 - Little Rock, AR

Americans for Clark Announcement Day in Little Rock at Boys & Girls Club

Thank you. Thank YOU. I like that. The Wes Wing. I like that. Great signs. Thank you very much. Thank you so much for being here; my family - Gert, Wes (son), Astrid (daughter in law), Senator David Pryor, Congressman Marion Berry, the Boys and Girls Club members on stage here with me, and all of you from Little Rock, Arkansas and all over America, thank you so much for coming here today and being with us.

My name is Wes Clark. I am from Little Rock, Arkansas, and I'm here to announce that I intend to seek the Presidency of the United States of America.

(Crowd starts to repeatedly cheer "We Want Clark")

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.

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

You took an inconceivable idea and made it conceivable (big smile). But many things are conceivable today because we do live in historic times. For the first time since Herbert Hoover's presidency, a President's economic policy has cost us more jobs than our economy has had the energy to create. For the first time since the 1960's and early 70's more than 100,000 American troops are fighting abroad and once again at home, Americans are concerned about their civil liberties.

For the first time since the Cold War, many Americans no longer feel safe at 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.

And we're going to talk straight to the American people. Because in times of historic challenges, the American people deserve to hear the truth and hear it in plain and simple language. 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 interests of all our people first.

And when I say we're going to bring people together, I mean all people, not just Democrats, but Independents, and Republicans, too. And especially those who have never participated before. You'll come with us.

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 2.7million 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? (Crowd answers "BUSH") Why has America lost the respect of so many people around the world? (Crowd answers "BUSH") That's the questions we're going to be asking and more; WHY are so many here in America hesitant to speak out and ask questions? (Crowd answers "BUSH"; Clark nods his head) 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 personal attacks but in the highest tradition of democratic dialogue. We're going to seek out the facts, search for the causes, to find the solutions, and in questioning and proposing alternatives, we're going to reach for the very essence of our democracy.

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

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 have a plan to restore the millions of jobs that have been lost and to restore our economic opportunities again.

We'll work out how to deal with the 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, listen, learn and grow. We're going to take the talents of ordinary Americans, their diverse talent and bring together the vision of the way ahead. In the coming weeks I'll deliver a major speech that will outline my vision for the economy and the vision for our national security and I hope that these speeches and that my entire campaign will generate the kind of frank, honest, open public debate this nation deserves.

(Crowd cheers "We Want Clark")

Let's recognize who we are. We are Americans and we have extraordinary promise and 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.

We've got a heritage of democracy, the rule of law, the respect for the rights and dignity of each and every individual that makes 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.

And together, we're going to march forward. Forward with a 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.

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 the support of people from all across this great land. We're underway and moving forward, we need your help here in Little Rock. Here in Arkansas and across America. But I want to reach out especially to those in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and everywhere across America. Get ready, we're moving out!

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