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Clark, his advisers consider strategy

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In what supporters consider a strong signal that he will enter the race for president, retired Army General Wesley K. Clark has called a core group of political advisers to Little Rock, Ark., Tuesday to discuss strategy for a possible Democratic campaign.

"It's a discussion about his decision, and he didn't say what his decision is," said George Bruno, a former New Hampshire Democratic chairman and ambassador to Belize, who is to attend Tuesday's meeting.

Bruno said he was invited to the meeting Monday morning, and last spoke to Clark by telephone on Friday.

"I knew that he was going to be taking the weekend to make his decision," Bruno said Monday. "So we're all looking forward to the meeting."

Insiders say the other invitees include Mark Fabiani, former spokesman for the Clinton White House; strategist Ron Klain, the former chief of staff for Vice President Al Gore; Washington, D.C., former news reporter Mary Jacoby, who resigned Monday from the St. Petersburg Times; and some technology staff for the Washington, D.C.-based group Draft Wesley Clark.

Clark, who has been courted for months by an Internet-based movement, has said he would announce his decision by Friday, when he is scheduled to give a speech in Iowa. Last week, he reached out directly to supporters for the first time, meeting with members of two separate "Draft Clark" groups and videotaping a message to be played at Clark "meetups," gatherings held in local restaurants and bars.

A Clark candidacy has been closely watched in Democratic circles, since some believe his military experience — he headed NATO's mission in Kosovo — would boost Democrats' chances against a wartime president. Terry McAuliffe, DNC chairman, has said that if Clark enters the race, he'll be invited to a candidate debate Sept. 25 in New York.

Clark would be the 10th candidate, joining some contenders who have been campaigning for about a year. He would have to play catch-up..0 21