NEW YORK – A day after he called President Bush an arrogant "bully" at a Manhattan fund-raiser, Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark (search) was endorsed by Harlem Congressman Charles Rangel (search) on Thursday.
At an endorsement rally in Harlem attended by several state and local officials and about 200 supporters, Rangel called the retired general "the candidate who can beat the president."
The Democratic congressman, who voted against the war in Iraq, said Bush "lost all of our friends that it took us 200 years to make."
"It's times like these that we need a warrior, and we got one," Rangel said of Clark.
"I'm the person to face down the commander in chief," said Clark. "He failed to do his job before 9-11. After 9-11, he took us into a war we didn't belong in."
At a dinner Wednesday night that raised more than $1 million for Clark's campaign, the candidate accused the Bush administration of pulling a "world class bait-and-switch" after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks by waging war against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein instead of focusing on capturing bin Laden and breaking up his Al Qaeda (search) network.
"Before 9-11, he was told ... that the greatest threat to America is from Usama bin Laden (search)," Clark said. "I can't imagine an appropriate excuse for why nine months later we didn't have a plan to deal with the threat of Usama bin Laden."
The United States went to war for an "ambiguous and ridiculous cause," Clark said during his speech, contending that Iraq neither posed an imminent threat nor had a role in the attacks on the World Trade Center and on the Pentagon.
Clark drew on his military experience to demonstrate his ability to lead the nation's fight against terror.
As the former supreme commander of NATO (search), Clark led a 78-day bombing campaign in 1999 aimed at expelling Yugoslav forces involved in a bloody crackdown on ethnic Albanians in Kosovo. The campaign led to the ouster of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic (search).
"I'm the only person in this race who ever looked a dictator in the eye and said, 'Mr. President, you either change your policies or we are going to bomb you,"' Clark said.
Clark also criticized Bush on the domestic front, saying the president had failed to adequately fund education.
He said he would fulfill five goals if elected: increasing the average family income by $3,000; cleaning up the environment; lowering college tuition and increasing college enrollment by a million students; elevating two million children out of poverty; and guaranteeing health care for every child and accessibility to health care for all Americans.
"I want an America where people take care of each other, not where they exploit each other," he said.