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  • America Votes

    Election news from across the Knight Ridder network and the Web

    Tuesday, February 10, 2004

    Somber mood in Clark's camp 

    Retired Gen. Wesley Clark continued to campaign in Tennessee, but the mood was grim and growing grimmer as he handed out sample ballots to voters who trickled into Lanier Middle School in Memphis shortly after dark.

    All day, the question lingering over the campaign seemed to be a matter of when — not if — Clark would drop out of the race. Wesley Clark Jr., his only son, told reporters that his father was determined to fight through Super Tuesday, but other strategists said that was impossible given the lack of funds. Some aides insisted that Clark was spending the night in Memphis and going on to Wisconsin — which holds its primary on Feb. 17 — on Wednesday, while others privately acknowledged that a trip to Little Rock for a concession speech was being discussed.

    As exit polls and early returns showed Clark getting trounced by Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry and North Carolina Sen. John Edwards in both Virginia and Tennessee, there were several signs of distress. Aides took photographs of each other as if saying goodbye, no one answered the phone at campaign headquarters in Little Rock, and the planned election night party at the downtown Marriott in Memphis drew an anemic crowd. Several staffers, including some from the "Draft Clark'' movement, also made the drive from Little Rock to Memphis.

    Clark had hoped to compete in Wisconsin because Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton has been one of his staunchest national supporters. But campaign chairman Eli Segal acknowledged that the campaign, which poured money into buying television ads in Tennessee, was running short of the funds that would be needed to run an aggressive campaign in the Badger State.

    Segal said that the campaign was weighing its options and that Clark's immediate family — his wife Gert, Wesley Jr., and his brother-in-law Gene Caulfield — would ultimately make the decision about whether to go forward despite the twin losses.

    - Dana Hull, San Jose Mercury News

    posted by Jim Van Nostrand at 7:23 PM

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