General Wes Clark rolled into Alabama yesterday, and he was relentless on the GOP. Clark held a public event and later a fundraiser for the Alabama House Democratic Caucus (
General Clark was an inspirational speaker, and he addressed the issues that folks in Alabama care about like jobs, national security, and family values. General Clark was the perfect way to kick off the reelection campaigns of House Democrats (FYI: Democrats have majorities in the Alabama House AND Senate)
This is how the Mobile Register, a right-leaning newspaper, described the event.
Clark: Democrats a party of 'values'
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
By BILL BARROW
BIRMINGHAM -- Retired Gen. Wesley Clark, former and possible future presidential candidate, delivered a fiery charge to Alabama Democrats here Monday, telling them to convince voters in this conservative Southern state to reject "incompetent" GOP leadership and embrace a party of "genuine" patriotism and family values.
"This is our flag," Clark said, as he stroked an American flag in the atrium of the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame downtown. "We fought for it. Some of us bled for it -- and nobody is going to take it away from us."
Clark asked veterans in the crowd, gathered at the $50-per-person fund-raiser for Alabama House Democrats, to raise their hands. Noting the significant number, he said, "Why aren't we the party of patriotism?"
He then asked for a show of hands from those who attend church, pray and read their Bibles. As nearly every hand went up, he asked louder, "Would you say this is a party of faith?"
An Arkansas native, West Point graduate, decorated Vietnam veteran, four-star general and former NATO commander, Clark headlined the kickoff of Alabama House Democrats' efforts to protect their legislative majority in 2006. He spoke twice, first at a local party rally, then at the fund-raiser.
Democrats hold a 63-42 advantage over Republicans in the Legislature's lower house. Democrats control the Senate 25-10. The Legislative branch is the last arm of state government Alabama's once dominant party still holds. Now they face a Republican Party, emboldened by a series of electoral victories and President Bush's overwhelming victory here last year, that has made winning the Legislature a top priority in 2006.
Clark said at the fundraiser that Republican gains, nationally and in Alabama, are due to the party's ability to reach voters in "an era of brand politics." But, he cautioned optimistically, "The labels are in flux."
"It comes down to a common morality," Clark said. "We believe in helping people. We believe in lifting people up. What does the other side believe in?
"They want to tell you that morality is only about sex, so they talk about gays. They talk about abortion. And they tell us, 'Greed is good.'"
Amid growing applause, he continued, "They stand for bettering individuals at the expense of everybody else. In the Democratic Party, we stand for the common good. Those are values Americans and Alabamians can understand."
State Democrats promised to heed Clark's call Monday night, as they unveiled their motto for the upcoming election: "Ready for a Fight in 2006." And despite the axiom that "all politics is local," an observation made famous by one of their own party, former U.S. House Speaker Tip O'Neal of Massachusetts, those gathered appeared emboldened by a spate of bad news for Republicans in Washington, D.C.
During both his appearances, Clark keyed on some of those troubles: climbing gasoline prices; the death toll in Iraq nearing 2,000; criticism over the federal response to Hurricane Katrina; record budget deficits; and legal troubles for temporarily deposed U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and several other figures affiliated with Bush.
"We've seen what one-party government looks like, and it isn't pretty," Clark said.
Alabama House Majority Leader Ken Guin, D-Carbon Hill, said his party is ready to tar Alabama Republicans with their national brethren.
"There are tangible ways to bring it home," he said, pointing out apparent financial links between state GOP campaigns and federal lobbyist Jack Abramoff, a Republican fund-raiser now under indictment.
Guin also noted the power of incumbency.
"Legislative races are a lot about knowing your legislator ?'Is it someone we can trust,'" he said. "The 63 Democrats in the Alabama House are people who have been through the fires locally."
A total dollar figure was not yet ready at the close of the fund-raiser, Guin said. But he predicted that over the course of the campaign "we'll match (Republicans)."
He made one other forecast as well: "I think on election day, Republicans are going to be very surprised. We're not going to just hold our majority. We're going to pick up seats."
Wes Clark is a true American hero, and we are lucky to have him fighting on our side.