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Clark Among Democrat Leaders, Poll Shows
Sun Sep 21, 8:51 AM ET

WASHINGTON - Retired Gen. Wesley Clark already appears to be competitive in a new national poll released just days after he became the 10th Democratic presidential candidate.

Clark was among the leaders of the Democratic candidates in the Newsweek Poll released Saturday, and was not far behind President Bush (news - web sites) in a head-to-head matchup in the poll taken only days after entering the race.

Clark, with 14 percent, was grouped among the leaders, along with former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (news - web sites) and Sen. Joe Lieberman (news - web sites) of Connecticut, both at 12 percent, and Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry (news - web sites) at 10 percent.

[Vox's editorial comment: Why do they say he's AMONG the leaders? He's THE leader, from these numbers, right? Or (here i go being objective again) does it have something to do with the poll's "margin for error?" ]

Other candidates were in single digits.

Clark has a lot of work to do, however, in states with early contests, which will likely be key to winning the nomination.

The survey by Newsweek magazine also suggested Bush may be increasingly vulnerable on issues from Iraq (news - web sites) to domestic concerns.

Disapproval of his handling of the situation in Iraq has increased 5 percentage points since the last Newsweek poll to 47 percent, about the same as the 46 percent who approved. Just under four in 10, 38 percent, approve of his handling of the economy, while 57 percent disapprove.

The president's overall job approval rating stood at 51 percent, about where it's been in several recent polls.

In a matchup with Bush, 47 percent of voters backed the president and 43 percent backed Clark.

Matched against Kerry, Bush had a slightly larger lead, 48 percent to 43 percent, and led Dean in a head-to-head matchup, 52 percent to 38 percent.

The poll of 1,001 adults was taken Thursday and Friday and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points, and 4 percentage points for registered voters.


Dean, campaigning in his native New York state on Saturday, decried United States "foreign policy based on the petulance" of Bush.

Standing with the Hudson River behind him, along with four kayakers carrying Dean signs, the former Vermont governor said that when it comes to the New York primary in March, "New York City will be a donnybrook" because he and the other candidates would all get strong support there.

In a move designed to highlight his attention to New York beyond the Big Apple "” and the other candidates' lack of attention to the region "” Dean told an enthusiastic crowd of more than 750 people on the Hudson, N.Y., waterfront, "I think I'm the first presidential candidate to come to Hudson since Bobby Kennedy" in 1968.

Dean drew repeated cheers with his stock attacks on Bush.

"I think it's time we ended a foreign policy based on the petulance of the chief executive of the United States," the Democrat told the crowd at Hudson's Waterfront Park. He attended two fund-raisers in the area.


Dean has set an ambitious $5 million goal for collecting money through the Internet during the last 10 days of the fund-raising quarter.

Campaign manager Joe Trippi said Saturday that progress toward the goal will be tracked on Dean's Web site Sunday through Sept. 30, when each of the Democratic presidential candidates must report their July-September collections.

The totals will be an important measuring stick of the campaigns' viability. Dean raised more money than eight other Democrats in the last quarter, a surprise showing that helped make him the field's nominal front-runner.

He is expected to raise as much as $15 million this quarter "” $5 million more than last quarter and far more than any of his nine rivals are expected to collect.