Wesley Clark often makes military statements considering his background. Military members affiliated with the Democratic party get special accolades from Clark; "John Kerry will join that pantheon of great wartime Democrats". Veterans of the Republican party like John McCain, do not get the same admiration from Clark. Speaking of McCain, Clark states "He hasn't been there and ordered the bombs to fall, he hasn't seen what it's like when diplomats come in and say, 'I don't know whether we're going to be able to get this point through or not.'"
During a June 30th interview on Meet the Press, Wesley Clark was asked by Bob Schieffer, "Can I just interrupt you? I have to say, Barack Obama hasn’t had any of these experiences either, nor has he ridden in a fighter plane and gotten shot down." Wesley Clark responded, "I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to become president." The Obama campaign disavowed the comments, but as McCain pointed out, "these types of things"[Citation Needed] have been said in the past, implying that it could be part of a coordinated effort by liberals to attack him. In turn, the McCain campaign's new Truth Squad responded to Clark's remarks. It included George "Bud" Day, who is best known for his appearance in a Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ad that questioned John Kerry's Purple Hearts, an attack that McCain denounced at the time.
Clark has made clear it was not an attack on McCain's service or record, but rather a question of whether they qualified him to be president. He issued a statement to reporters later stating, "As I have said before I honor John McCain's service as a prisoner of war and a Vietnam Veteran. He was a hero to me and to hundreds of thousands and millions of others in Armed Forces as a prisoner of war. I would never dishonor the service of someone who chose to wear the uniform for our nation...John McCain is running his campaign on his experience and how his experience would benefit him and our nation as President. That experience shows courage and commitment to our country - but it doesn't include executive experience wrestling with national policy or go-to-war decisions."
2004 DNC Speech
Clark states that John Kerry is fit to be commander because he served in the Vietnam war. "John Kerry has heard the thump of enemy mortars. He's seen the flash of the tracers. He's lived the values of service and sacrifice. In the Navy, as a prosecutor, as a senator, he proved his physical courage under fire. And he's proved his moral courage too. John Kerry fought a war, and I respect him for that. And he came home to fight a peace. And I respect him for that, too. John Kerry's combination of physical courage and moral values is my definition of what we need as Americans in our commander in chief."
Gen. Wesley Clark says Libya doesn't meet the test for U.S. military action. The Washington Post.
- , Agence France-Presse McCain Allies Hit Obama Over Gen. Clark War Jibe, June 30, 2008
- The Washington Post (AP) - Obama disowns critique of McCain's military record
- ABC News - Clark Questions the Value of McCain's Service
- , CNN Clark: Kerry has moral courage born in battle, July 29, 2004