updated 1/18/2004 2:50:44 PM ET 2004-01-18T19:50:44

Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark was endorsed Sunday by former Sen. George McGovern, the party’s 1972 nominee. He called Clark the “best of the lot” of candidates in the race.

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“We’re not going to lose this time,” McGovern said at a pancake breakfast for Clark, recalling his landslide defeat by President Nixon.

The former South Dakota lawmaker compared his opposition to the Vietnam War to Clark’s criticism of President Bush’s decision to wage war in Iraq. He said Clark is the only candidate with a “success strategy to get us out of the war in Iraq, and get our servicemen and women home safely.”

Clark, a retired four-star general, has made criticism of Bush’s Iraq policy a central theme of his campaign. On Sunday, he repeated his assertion that going to war without broader international backing was “reckless and wrong.”

“I would not have gone into Iraq in the first place,” Clark said in response to a question from the audience. “My position was that Iraq was not an imminent threat. I would have concentrated on Osama bin Laden.”

McGovern said any of the eight Democrats would wage a good fight against Bush but said, “I think the best of the lot is Wesley Clark.”

Of McGovern, Clark said: “The values we’re talking about are the same values he’s lived: patriotism, faith, family and inclusive leadership.”

Alone in N.H.
Clark had New Hampshire to himself again on Sunday, with most of his rivals stumping in Iowa on the eve of the caucuses there.

Clark decided to skip Iowa to focus on New Hampshire’s Jan. 27 presidential primary and his decision seemed to be paying off. A poll last week found that he had pulled close behind Howard Dean in New Hampshire, due in part to his steady campaigning in the state.

Standing side by side, Clark and McGovern flipped pancakes. Over his trademark sweater, Clark wore an apron that said: “Rhodes Scholar. Supreme Allied Commander. Master of the Short Stack. And Four-Star General.”

Clark drew a huge round of applause later on when he switched into a New England Patriots sweat shirt, ahead of the football team’s AFC championship game against the Indianapolis Colts.

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