Retired Four-Star Gives Presidential Pick


Retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark said Thursday he wants the American public to understand what a "great commander in chief" President Barack Obama is.

"He's made some really great decisions, some tough decisions and he's been extremely successful," Clark told the Daily Press. "Not only that, he's been stronger in support of veterans in actual resources and programs than any president in my life time."

Clark, a Democratic presidential candidate in 2004, was part of an Obama campaign roll out of military leaders in Roanoke Wednesday, along with retired Army Maj. Gen. James Kelley and retired Navy Rear Adm. Jamie Barnett. Clark praised the president for ending the war in Iraq, taking down Osama bin Laden and the surge in Afghanistan.

"I think the facts are clearly on the president's side and that's what we're out to show," said the former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO forces.

Republicans have been highly critical of Obama over the sequestration deal that will cut the defense budget by $500 billion over 10 years.

U.S. Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Chesapeake, who sits on the House Armed Services Committee, speaking on a conference call ahead of the president's Thursday visit to Leesburg, said Obama is holding the military hostage by using the looming cuts as a "blackmail mechanism" to raise taxes on the American people.

Forbes, who voted 'no' on the sequestration deal last summer that allowed the federal government to raise the national debt ceiling, said Obama has failed to lead in finding a way to avert the cuts. One recent study estimated that more than 200,00 federal jobs are at risk in Virginia.

"There is no matrix by which you can measure this administration and say that they have been good either for national defense of this country or for the economy of Virginia," Forbes said.

But Clark said the blame for sequestration can be laid "entirely" on Republicans in Congress.

"(Republicans) were the ones behind this particular sequestration plan," Clark said. "Now that the going's getting tough and people are realizing this is a really bad idea, they're trying to duck the blame. There's no ducking this one."

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