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Clark Plans to Endorse Kerry, Dean Makes Appeal for Voters

By Jodi Wilgoren

The New York Times -- MADISON, Wis.

Just two days after abandoning his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, Gen. Wesley K. Clark plans to endorse Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts on Friday, aides to the senator said.

The endorsement is to come at a morning rally in Wisconsin, which holds its primary on Tuesday, the aides said. Clark, who withdrew on Wednesday after placing third in the Virginia and Tennessee primaries, confirmed that he would meet with Kerry, but he declined to talk about any endorsement.

“Whether I’m in this race or not is less important to me than the opportunity to speak out and make a difference in this country,” he said on Thursday on the CNN program, Inside Politics. “I’m looking forward to seeing John tomorrow. And I’m looking forward to going to Wisconsin.”

Even as Clark made plans to endorse Kerry, who has emerged as the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, Howard Dean made a direct appeal to Clark supporters.

“I ask for your help,” Dean, the former governor of Vermont, said here. “Wes Clark and I have one thing in common: We are both not from Washington, D.C.”

Dean also asked supporters of Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich of Ohio to back him instead, telling several hundred students at the University of Wisconsin that “only one of us can beat George Bush.”

“If you think Dennis is the right person to vote for, then please vote for him, never settle for the lesser of two evils,” he said, “but we are able to raise the money and I have an executive record that allows me to go after George Bush.”

At the same time, Dean lumped in the same boat his two main rivals in the Wisconsin primary, Kerry and Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, saying, “they are good people, but they come from inside Washington it’s another world, it’s a world that has forgotten ordinary people.”

A few minutes earlier, Dean mischaracterized the two senators’ position on financing the reconstruction of Iraq. Making the point, as he always does, that the $87 billion appropriated for Iraq and Afghanistan could have paid for universal health insurance, Dr. Dean said “we’re paying for it because two of the people I’m running against decided it was OK to pay it,” adding, “those guys made the wrong choice.”

In fact, Edwards and Kerry both voted against the $87 billion appropriation, although they had both voted in favor of the resolution authorizing the initial Iraq invasion.

The rally in Madison came during a day of campaigning focused on health care Dean and his wife, Judith Steinberg Dean, who is also a physician, toured two health clinics, one on the university’s Madison campus and one for uninsured people in Oshkosh.

“Judy still makes house calls, I used to,” Dean said at a forum in Oshkosh. “We are going to make one more house call. It’s going to be Jan. 20th, 2005.”

Dean told reporters while traveling between campaign stops that if he loses the Wisconsin primary on Tuesday, “we will not stop the campaign,” but that he had not yet figured out what form it might take. He said he would not go into debt to stay on the trail.

“What I’ve said is we’re not going to have a quixotic campaign that I know I can’t win,” he explained. “We’re not going to do that. The definition of that we’ll have to leave to later.”

Asked about Democrats who are concerned that his criticism of Kerry could weaken the party’s eventual nominee, Dean scoffed: “In light of the things that I’ve gone through, I think that would be laughable.”

Edwards held one event in Wisconsin on Thursday, delivering his standard remarks about the privileged winning out over everybody else at a rally in a community center in Racine. He then flew to Los Angeles for a fund-raiser and to greet voters there.

Edwards took questions from the crowd in Racine, which included dozens of high school students, but his drive to reach voters was apparent. Before he began answering he whispered to an aide, “Are they old enough to vote?”