With rising poll numbers and growing crowds in New Hampshire, Democratic presidential contender Wesley K. Clark ventured out of the state Saturday but planned to sprint back today, canceling trips to California and other states over the next few days.
With donations pouring in, according to aides, Clark’s scheduling changes reflect the increasing importance his campaign attaches to New Hampshire, site of the nation’s first primary on Jan. 27.
Clark hopes to finish at least second in the vote, which could boost his prospects in a spate of primaries the next week largely in Southern and Western states.
Among the trips canceled was a visit to Los Angeles today, where the retired general was to have attended a fundraiser and visited his only grandchild, who was born Dec. 25. Also dropped from his itinerary were stops later in the week in Arizona, Oklahoma and New Mexico.
A strong showing in New Hampshire is all the more important for Clark because he decided not to actively seek support in the Jan. 19 Iowa caucuses.
Clark has been reticent about his apparent momentum in New Hampshire. “I’m enjoying meeting large numbers of people,” he said. “I’m going to do the best I can to meet the voters.”
But one of his aides, Jamal Simmons, said the campaign senses that, in the state, “people are coming to Gen. Clark at a very fast clip.”
Explaining the new schedule, Simmons said, “What we don’t want to do is break our stride.”
Clark began the day in Manchester, N.H., before flying to Superior, Wis., and on to Bismarck for the North Dakota Democratic Party’s Jefferson-Jackson dinner. North Dakota is among the states with nominating contests on Feb. 3; Wisconsin’s primary is Feb. 17.
The first presidential candidate to visit Superior since John F. Kennedy, Clark was greeted by an overflow crowd of some 500 people and left with the endorsement of former Sen. Gaylord Nelson (D-Wis.), a staunch environmentalist and the founder of Earth Day.
In Bismarck, he met with a group of Native Americans.
Clark attended a pancake breakfast in Manchester and, at New England College, gave a speech that focused on futuristic themes. He has recently begun accusing President Bush of failing to “look beyond the next election cycle” in his proposals.
Clark spoke of “new frontiers of science, frontiers of human potential, frontiers of human understanding and frontiers of the human spirit. These are new frontiers ... that will change the way we understand ourselves and understand others, new frontiers that you and I will live to see.”
He also said: “We should be an America not puffed up by pride in our own power, but rather an America humbled by the recognition of our common humanity.”