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Wesley Clark says he acted alone in taking on John McCain

July 1, 2008 |  8:34 am

Wesley Clark told ABC's "Good Morning America" a little while ago that Barack Obama and his campaign had nothing to do with theWesley_clark_says_barack_obamas_cam comments he made the other day that John McCain's service record did not equip him to lead the nation.

Clark took a lot of heat for the comments -- and a veiled rebuke from Obama Monday -- and today added a little context: "I served 38 years in uniform. I'm proud of my service and I was asked to give my opinion about professional qualifications based on my experience." Clark said that as both a wounded combat vet and a high military officer "I have some appreciation for both levels of command and the qualities it takes at the top. I simply say it's a matter of judgment — experience, yes, it's important. It shows character and courage, but on the other hand there are other ways to show character and courage."

Clark didn't back down but said he respected McCain and his service, and was "very sorry this has distracted from the message of patriotism that Sen. Obama wants to put out."

You can see the video of Clark here.

UPDATE: The McCain surrogates are having none of it, describing Obama's relationship with comments by Clark and others as a "wink and a nod game." But shouldn't that presumption cut both ways? To paraphrase an old axiom, live by the surrogate ...

UPDATE (3:53 p.m. PDT): Obama addressed the issue with reporters in Ohio today and said his comments in Missouri Monday were not intended as a rebuke to Clark, despite the timing: "Sen. McCain deserves the utmost honor and respect for his service to our country. I’ve said that repeatedly, I’ve said it all the time. I notice that in at least one publication it was reported that my comments yesterday on Sen. McCain were in response to Gen. Clark. I think my staff will confirm that was in a draft of a speech I’d written two months ago."

-- Scott Martelle

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