Clinton pulling Clark strings? Army of former administration players, allies on general's camp viewed as endorsement -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Posted: September 21, 2003 8:00 p.m. Eastern © 2003 WorldNetDaily.com Democrats and Republicans alike are speculating former President Bill Clinton is the "man behind the curtain" pulling the levers of the presidential campaign of Democratic newcomer Retired Gen. Wesley Clark. The former president and his wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, urged Clark to enter the race in the first place, reports the Associated Press. "He's a smart man, served our country well," Clinton said of Clark in Iowa last weekend. He was reportedly overheard describing his wife and Clark as "two Democratic stars" at a recent party in New York. Democrat presidential candidate Gen. Wesley Clark In addition to elbowing his fellow Arkansan into the pack of ten candidates for the Democratic nomination, Clinton has also had a hand in lining up the retired general's army of campaign advisers. According to the Associated Press, former Commerce Secretary Mickey Kantor signed on as senior adviser, with a nudge from Clinton. In addition to Kantor, other Clintonites said to be on board include Skip Rutherford, head of the Clinton presidential library, former White House lawyer Bruce Lindsey and former Sen. David Pryor, D-Ark. The AP reports former White House Chief of Staff John Podesta, former White House aide Rahm Emanuel, now a congressman from Illinois, and former Clinton White House press secretary Mike McCurry participated in the first conference call convened by Clark. And in addition to former Clinton administration officials Mark Fabiani and Eli Segal, the roster of Clark's team reportedly includes the high-profile names of James Carville and Paul Begala. "I've offered to help all the candidates," Begala told the AP in a telephone interview. Other Clark advisers also downplay the Clinton connection, pointing out that the former president, who pledged impartiality in the race for the Democratic nomination, counsels and praises other candidates. Still, the political heavyweights from the Clinton administration stumping for Clark represents circumstantial evidence to some Democrats and party activists that Clinton is pulling Clark's strings, according to the AP. For Clinton's part, a close associate, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the AP he isn't siding with any candidate, but is the most "emotionally invested with Clark because he is the candidate with whom he has most in common. Clinton's emotional investment has helped propel Clark ahead of his rivals just two days after entering the race. According to a Newsweek poll, Clark wins the support of 14 percent of the registered Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters, surpassing former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, with 12 percent, Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, also with 12 percent, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, with 10 percent and Missouri Congressman Dick Gephardt, 8 percent. Conservative commentators theorize Clinton's promotion of Clark has to do with the political ambitions of the other "Democratic star." While some analysts suggest a weak Clark candidacy could pave the way for Hillary Clinton, others wonder whether a Clark-Clinton or a Clinton-Clark ticket could be in the making for either 2004 or 2008. In fact, Clinton's recent public statements suggest he's recruiting his wife to become President Bush's eleventh rival for 2004. "That's really a decision for her to make," he said Thursday, suggesting the decision has yet to be made despite the senator's repeated insistence she would fill out her term in New York. Time magazine reports Clinton has been urging his wife to get into the race and has been trying to figure out a way for her to be able to rescind her past comments.