Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton was endorsed Saturday by Wesley Clark, the retired four-star general whose early criticism of the Iraq war fueled a high-profile but short-lived run for the party's nomination in 2004.

"Senator Clinton has the experience, good judgment and the battle tested character to face the challenges ahead," Clark told The Associated Press.

Clark, who joined the Democratic field four years ago largely due to an active online draft movement, planned to discuss his endorsement on a conference call with bloggers later Saturday.

A decorated career Army officer who graduated first in his class at West Point, Clark served as NATO's supreme allied commander and led the Operation Allied Force in the Kosovo war under President Clinton.

Clark received numerous military commendations throughout his 34-year career and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Clark's brief foray into presidential politics wasn't as successful.

He was a latecomer to the 2004 field. His military credentials and forceful criticism of President Bush's handling of the Iraq war propelled him to the top of polls for a time. But he stumbled on his first full day as a candidate, saying he "probably" would have voted for the congressional resolution authorizing the Iraq invasion. Questions about that statement dogged him for the rest of the campaign.

Clark left the race in February after finishing a weak third in New Hampshire and winning just one primary -- Oklahoma's -- after that. He endorsed the eventual Democratic nominee, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry.

Clark has remained active in politics, running a political action committee, WESpac, and campaigning for Democratic candidates around the country.