MANCHESTER, N.H. – Wesley Clark's (search) income quickly multiplied after his retirement from the military, rising to $1.6 million in 2002, according to financial records released Friday by the Democratic presidential candidate.
More than $1 million of Clark's 2002 income came from speaking fees and from payments he received as a military analyst for CNN.
Clark released five years of military records, tax returns and other financial documents. He and his wife, Gertrude, saw their family income soar after he retired in 2000 from the Army.
The Clarks' joint tax returns show an adjusted gross income of $92,673 in 1998 and $84,205 in 1999. In 2000, their income rose to $451,000, and in 2001 it was $755,000. For 2002, the Clarks paid $129,717 in taxes on income of $1.61 million.
Clark's documents show he regularly received $25,000 to $30,000 per appearance in speaking fees. As a military analyst, commenting mostly on the conflict with Iraq, he earned between $10,000 and $38,000 a month from CNN.
Clark's income places him in the group he believes should lose the Bush tax cuts, families with incomes over $200,000 a year. Under the Clark tax program, families with incomes of $50,000 or less would pay no taxes.
Clark has been gaining ground in polls for the Jan. 27 New Hampshire primary, narrowing the gap with front-runner Howard Dean (search). The retired general said increasing criticism from Dean and other Democratic rivals, and from Republicans, reflects the tightening race.
"I'm Karl Rove's biggest nightmare," Clark asserted Thursday night at a town-hall meeting, referring to Bush's chief political strategist.
Clark portrays himself as the most electable of the eight Democrats seeking to limit Bush to one term. He said he is the only Democratic candidate with foreign policy experience, and he compared the role of commander-in-chief in dealing with world crises to major league baseball.
"I will outpitch George W. Bush," he said.
Earlier Thursday, at a news conference in Manchester, Clark said it was up to Congress to determine whether Bush's march to war in Iraq amounted to a criminal offense.
"I think that's a question Congress needs to ask. I think this Congress needs to investigate precisely" how the United States wound up in a war "that wasn't connected to the threat of Al Qaeda (search)," he said.
Clark defended his recent comments against the war after both his Democratic rivals and top Republicans complained that the statements were inconsistent with past remarks, including testimony to Congress in 2002.
He has called for a full congressional probe into why the United States went to war in Iraq, but his comments Thursday marked the first time he had hinted at possible criminal wrongdoing.
Clark said Bush misled the nation on Iraq (search). "This was an elective war," he said. "He forced us to go to war."
Clark denied changing positions on the war, renewing his assertion that he had opposed it all along.
Ed Gillespie, the Republican National Committee chairman, traveled Thursday to Arkansas - Clark's home state -- to criticize the Democratic candidates. He singled out Clark and argued that Clark had changed his position on the war for political gain.
The RNC released a transcript of Clark's testimony to the House Armed Services Committee in which he called Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein a clear threat and said military action could not be postponed indefinitely.
Gillespie quoted a published report that Clark claimed he would have become a Republican "if Karl Rove had only returned my phone calls."
Clark ridiculed the suggestion. "I never called Karl Rove (search), and I never was going to be a Republican," he said.