updated 12/29/2003 2:53:10 PM ET 2003-12-29T19:53:10

Democratic presidential hopeful Wesley Clark’s new television commercial includes a clip of him and Bill Clinton. It’s the first ad of the 2004 campaign to include an image of the former president, arguably America’s most popular Democrat.

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The clip is only a few seconds and shows Clinton walking from a podium at the White House to place the Presidential Medal of Freedom over Clark’s head, honoring his fellow Arkansan for his work in Kosovo as NATO supreme allied commander.

It is one of several scenes in the 30-second ad that was to start running Monday night in New Hampshire, where Clark is trailing Howard Dean and John Kerry in polls. The commercial includes footage of Clark with a short-order cook, a solider and schoolchildren in a classroom.

Campaign advisers say the ad is meant to illustrate that Clark would be the kind of leader who not only has seen ordinary people do extraordinary things in their lifetimes, but who has been honored for such accomplishments.

'Decorated for valor'
As the Clinton clip is shown, an announcer in the ad says that Clark is a leader who has been “decorated for valor and for service in our country.”

Clinton’s name is not mentioned, but it’s obvious that the footage is meant to align the retired Army general with the former president. It is one more example of how Clark’s campaign is embracing the similarities between the two men.

Dozens of former Clinton staffers are working on Clark’s campaign. It recently released a film about Clark’s life that was reminiscent of a film about Clinton and was made by the same person who produced that critically acclaimed piece. The two men’s early lives also have striking parallels, such as both having earned Rhodes scholarships to study at Oxford University in the late 1960s.

The campaign is spending $125,000, a moderate amount, to run the ad for a week on stations that broadcast into New Hampshire.

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