CHARLESTON, S.C. — Gen. Wesley K. Clark on Monday called for "a new American patriotism" that would encourage broader public service, respect domestic dissent even in times of war, and embrace international organizations like the United Nations.
Clark, a former NATO military commander and retired Army officer who last week announced his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination, accused the Bush administration of neglecting the nation's economic problems and of pursuing a dangerous go-it-alone foreign policy.
But he also used the setting of the Citadel, a military college here, to appeal to cadets and civilians assembled on the parade grounds to help restore something loftier: a sense of national spirit, which he suggested the administration's campaign against terror had corroded.
"We've got to have a new kind of patriotism that recognizes that in times of war or peace, democracy requires dialogue, disagreement and the courage to speak out," Clark said. "And those who do it should not be condemned but be praised."
Monday was Day 6 of the Clark campaign, and his 20-minute stump speech still had a few rough patches. "Patriotism doesn't consist of following the orders, not, not not when you're not in the chain of command," he said, stumbling over his words and catching himself before he inadvertently encouraged insubordination in the ranks.
Clark, a West Point graduate, was invited to speak here by Philip Lader, a visiting political science professor who is a close friend of former President Bill Clinton. Many former top Clinton aides are playing roles in the Clark campaign.
Clark aimed his rhetorical attacks against the administration, never mentioning any of the other nine Democratic candidates. He criticized the Bush team for doing little to stem the job losses and mounting deficits that have weighed down the economy since he retired from the Army in 2000 and entered the private sector.
"I'm running for president because I could not stand by and watch everything that we fought for, everything our nation had accomplished and become, unravel before our eyes," Clark said.