WASHINGTON – Wesley Clark (search) left a few things out Thursday when he defended his Democratic credentials; namely, the Republicans he's supported for president.
"I voted for Bill Clinton and Al Gore," the retired general said in a Democratic presidential debate Thursday, then stopped there. He also has said previously that he voted for Republicans including Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and the first George Bush.
Stories not fully told were part of the story of the night.
John Kerry (search), a Vietnam veteran who addressed his days as a protest leader against that war, talked about how "we camped on the Mall underneath the Congress," although accounts of that April 1971 demonstration had him staying in a friend's Georgetown town house most nights while the masses stayed in tents.
Kerry spokesman David DiMartino said Kerry did sleep on the Mall and used the Georgetown house for protest organizing during the day.
Some of the characterizations of legislation were arguable.
Sen. John Edwards (search), voicing his objections to the Defense of Marriage Act signed by President Clinton in 1996, said it "took away the power of states ... to be able to do what they chose to do" about gay civil unions." He said, "I think these are decisions that the states should have the power to make."
States have that option under the law. The act allows states to refuse to honor same-sex unions performed outside their boundaries, but also lets them legalize the unions if they want. It specifies that such unions would not be recognized by the federal government.
Edwards did, however, acknowledge "I don't claim to be an expert on this."
Kerry flatly accused President Bush of "pushing seniors off of Medicare into HMOs."
The new prescription drug program subsidizes costs for low-income patients and encourages private insurance companies to offer coverage for the elderly willing to opt out of traditional Medicare. It does not force seniors off of Medicare.
Howard Dean (search), as he does routinely, stated that 60 percent of taxpayers only got $304 on average from Bush's tax cuts. That calculation applies to the lowest earning 60 percent of taxpayers -- many of whom pay little or no federal income tax to begin with. Middle income earners, especially those with children, saved substantially more than that from the lowering of income tax rates across the board.
Also in the debate, Clark was asked to account for his assertions earlier in the campaign that he would prevent another terrorist attack from happening like that of Sept. 11, 2001. "I never used the word 'guarantee," he said.
Clark's assurances, however, were close to categorical.
"If I'm president of the United States, I'm going to take care of the American people," Clark was quoted by the Concord Monitor in New Hampshire earlier this month. "We are not going to have one of these incidents."