Clark to Address Black Caucus Forum

An Arkansan seeking the Democratic presidential nomination will be the first in the race to appear before a town hall meeting sponsored by the Arkansas Legislative Black Caucus (search).

The group announced Wednesaday that retired Gen. Wesley Clark (search), who grew up at Little Rock and now lives there, is scheduled to appear at the forum in his home town on Sunday at Philander Smith College.

"We want to have an opportunity as a caucus and our constituents to hear directly from the various candidates and to be able to pose questions that speak specifically to the needs of our community," said Sen. Henry Wilkins, D-Pine Bluff, the caucus chairman. "We hope to get a better feel for where each of the candidates is coming from and how they'll meet the needs of our constituents."

The hour-long event is scheduled to start at 6 p.m.

Clark, the former NATO (search) commander who entered the Democratic presidential race Sept. 17, has expressed support for affirmative action and raising the federal minimum wage, positions that members of the black caucus favor.

On Wednesday, he wrote a letter urging ESPN to fire conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh for saying the media wanted Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb to succeed because he is black.

"General Clark is a Democrat, and he looks forward to speaking to every aspect of the Democratic Party (search) as he continues to talk about his bid to bring America new leadership and a new direction," campaign spokesman Bill Buck said. "He's looking to enlist every Arkansan and every American as this grassroots movement grows."

Wilkins said the black caucus has been invited to endorse Clark but would remain neutral in the Democratic race for now.

"We want to make sure that he's speaking to the concerns that we have. I'm confident that he will, but I can't say that we'll endorse him," the senator said. "I have a feeling that Sunday night will be a very interesting opportunity for us to connect with him in a very special way."

Another of the 10 Democratic presidential candidates, former Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley Braun (search), is scheduled to appear in another of the black caucus' town hall meetings Sunday, Oct. 12. The Rev. Al Sharpton (search), a human rights activist from New York, also has committed to participating in the series, the caucus said.

Moseley Braun and Sharpton are the only black candidates in the Democratic field.

Clark, who was in California on Wednesday to campaign for embattled Democratic Gov. Gray Davis, is scheduled to appear at Sunday's town hall meeting a day after campaigning at a Saturday music festival in El Dorado.