WESLEY CLARK FOR PRESIDENT
Clark withdraws from the Democratic Presidential Race 2-11-04
DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE MAIN PAGE
Clark to skeptical Democrats: 'It's great to be home'
Ron Fournier, Associated Press
Published October 4, 2003 DEMS04
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Wesley Clark told skeptical party activists Friday "it's great to be home" as the Democrat's 10th presidential candidate. Rival John Kerry questioned the newcomer's Republican ties.
"I stood against Richard Nixon, not with him," Kerry said as a parade of presidential contenders began two days of speeches to the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
Clark entered the race Sept. 17, two years after praising the Reagan, Nixon and both Bush administrations at a GOP fund-raiser -- and without registering as a Democrat in Arkansas. His address Friday drew polite and repeated applause as Democratic activists said they were still taking his measure.
"As long as he keeps pushing those Democratic ideals, we're happy to have him," said Michael Callaghan, chairman of the West Virginia Democratic Party. In two dozen interviews after the speeches, DNC members repeatedly echoed Callaghan's cautiously positive sentiments.
Kerry and Clark clashed as fellow candidate Joe Lieberman led the candidates in questioning President Bush's integrity. They insisted that he misled the nation about the justification for war in Iraq while reneging on promises to deliver a compassionate conservative domestic agenda.
In a Lieberman presidency, "There will never be distrust in any of my motives; my only interest will be the nation's interest. That is my promise, so help me God," the Connecticut senator said, raising his right hand. Bush used that gesture on the 2000 campaign trail to remind voters about President Clinton's sex scandal and impeachment.
Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, former Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley Braun and Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio also addressed the 445-member committee of party regulars. Four candidates address them today.
Clark's address was the most closely watched as he sought to put the partisanship issue to rest. "Before I say another word, I want to make one thing clear: I'm pro-choice . . . I'm pro-affirmative action, I'm pro-environment, pro-education, pro-health care and pro-labor," he said. "And if that ain't a Democrat, then I must be at the wrong meeting."
Ticking off a long list of complaints about Bush, Clark added, "I realized there was only one place for me, and I just want to tell you it's great to be home."
Even some supporters of Clark's rivals said they would give him the benefit of the doubt. "He chose the Democratic Party," said Denise King, a Dean backer from New York. "I'm honored."
Others said Clark will not shake off doubts, even with one well-received address. "He hits all the Democratic buzzwords, but he has not had a Democratic record," said Judith Hope, another Dean backer from New York.
Without mentioning his new rival by name, Kerry contrasted his Democratic credentials with Clark's.
"This is not a commitment I made in the last year or that I stumbled across in the last campaign. This has been a cause to me of a lifetime," said the Massachusetts senator. He also questioned Dean's commitment to Medicare and middle-class tax cuts.
Kucinich said, "It is time to get the United Nations in and the United States out of Iraq." Braun's message was simple: "Give a woman a chance to win."
Clark, Dean lead Democrats
October 4, 2003
By LORI A. CARTER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark and former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean lead the pack of 10 Democratic hopefuls among Sonoma County Democrats, according to The Press Democrat Poll.
But with five months to go before the Democratic primary in March, two-thirds of the county's Democrats have not yet decided which candidate they will support.
President Bush, meanwhile, has failed to persuade a significant percentage of local Republicans that he deserves a second term, with 31 percent saying they weren't yet convinced he's earned it.
Overall, with the general election still 13 months away, the poll showed many Sonoma County voters have yet to form solid opinions about who should be the next commander in chief.
In an area dominated by liberals, Clark and Dean, at 12 percent and 11 percent, respectively, were the only two Democratic candidates with double-digit support.
The results reflect national polls showing Clark, a fast-rising newcomer to the campaign, and Dean, a well-financed experienced legislator, as the early top-tier candidates in a crowded field of challengers vying to unseat Bush in November 2004.
While Tuesday's hotly contested gubernatorial recall campaign has dominated voters' attention over the past several weeks, the March 2 state presidential primary has sat quietly on the back-burner.
According to The Press Democrat's weeklong phone poll of voters, 19 percent said they probably would vote for Bush and 41 percent said they would likely vote for whichever Democratic candidate wins the party's nomination.
Fifteen percent said they were leaning toward a third-party candidate.
But one in four local voters have not decided which party's candidate will get their support in November 2004.
Clark, who entered the race Sept. 17, has moved to the front of the Democratic pack in most polls and is quickly accumulating the financial war chest needed to compete through the primaries.
His military experience is an advantage for Carol Wargo of Santa Rosa, who said she votes for "candidates not parties."
"It's a long ways off, but maybe Clark. I like what he had to say," she said. "I'm just looking for someone who's intelligent and someone who's not persuaded by special-interest groups."
The lackluster support for Bush is echoed in national polls showing his job approval rating sliding. This week, a New York Times/CBS News poll found a solid majority of Americans believe the country is on the wrong track and only about half approve of Bush's overall job performance.
In Sonoma County, nearly half of the Republicans polled, 47 percent, said they would cast their ballots for Bush next year. But almost a third said they were not willing to commit their vote yet.
Loraine Otte, a Santa Rosa Republican who voted for Bush over Al Gore in 2000, said she's not so sure this time around.
"I don't totally agree with the packages he's pushing," she said, specifically Bush's $87 billion request to finance military operations and reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan. "I know it isn't all falling on Bush's shoulders, but is it going to stop at ($87) billion -- when we have our own problems at home?"
While Bush's standing may have fallen with some, the long list of Democratic contenders are still unknown for most Sonoma County voters.
Two-thirds of Democrats polled, 66 percent, said they have not formed firm opinions of who they will vote for in the March 2 primary, which will help select who takes on Bush in November.
Sonoma Democrat Dave Henderson said he'd vote for any of the Democrats over Bush, but Dean's political background gives him the boost over the former NATO leader in Kosovo.
"I respect Wesley Clark ... and I like many of his positions, but I don't feel he has the experience that Dean has in governing a state. That's very important," he said. "I'm a little wary of an untested military figure in the political arena. His ability to work with legislators is unproven."
Dennis Kucinich, the only presidential candidate to visit Sonoma County so far, drew 1,000 supporters in May in Santa Rosa in one of his four visits here, yet his local support has not solidified over the past few months.
Only 4 percent of Democrats polled said they will vote for the Ohio congressman, and only 2 percent said he has the best chance of beating Bush.
Most county voters aren't sure yet which of the 10 Democratic candidates would have the best chance to defeat Bush, with 65 percent uncertain.
Clark seems to have the best likelihood, 14 percent said, but 7 percent predicted none of the Democrats could beat Bush.
Four percent thought Dean has the best chance at defeating Bush.
The other Democratic hopefuls -- Florida Sen. Bob Graham; Connecticut Sen. and 2000 vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman; John Edwards, the first-term senator from North Carolina; Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry; former House Minority Leader and Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt; former Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley Braun; and the Rev. Al Sharpton -- were considered longshots to challenge Bush.
Kenwood Republican Ralph Fravel acknowledged Clark and Dean have potential but said he'll probably support Bush.
"He's done a pretty good job. I know the economy is in the tank, but I don't know that it was all his fault," he said. "Bush is aggressive. He's like Harry Truman -- I like the 'give 'em hell'-type person."
The Press Democrat Poll is a phone survey of 285 Sonoma County registered voters conducted Sept. 25 to Wednesday by Richard Hertz Consulting of Bodega Bay. The margin of error is plus or minus 6 percent.
You can reach Staff Writer Lori A. Carter at 521-5205 or email@example.com.
Clark tanks used in Waco siege
Democrat candidate's role in attack on Branch Davidians questioned
Posted: October 16, 2003
1:00 a.m. Eastern
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By Kelly Patricia O'Meara
© 2003 News World Communications Inc.
Retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark wants to be president and, given that he is a man who has worn many hats during his controversial rise through the ranks, many believe this qualifies him for the top political job. But serious questions abound about his actions as commander of the 1st Cavalry Division of the Army's III Corps at Fort Hood, Texas, in 1993.
Clark has worn the hat of first-in-his-class graduate of West Point, Rhodes scholar, decorated Vietnam combat veteran, White House fellow, four-star general and even Supreme Commander of NATO a post from which he was relieved.
There is one hat, though, that despite lingering suspicions and accusations Clark neither has confirmed nor denied wearing a hat that many Americans might find very disturbing for a military man seeking the top civilian post in the U.S. government without first registering with either political party or being so much as elected dog catcher.
In his recently published book Winning Modern Wars, Clark proclaims that the "American way was not to rely on coercion and hard pressure but on persuasion and shared vision," which has been taken by Democratic Party doves to explain why the retired general has been an outspoken critic of President George W. Bush's handling of the war in Iraq. But while Clark may prefer a "kinder, gentler" persuasion in dealing with U.S. enemies abroad, critics are saying his actions at home should be reviewed before deciding whether he is qualified to be trusted with America's civil liberties.
For example, there is the 1993 siege of David Koresh's Mount Carmel commune in Waco, Texas, where four law-enforcement officers were killed and nearly 90 civilians men, women and children massacred by being shot and/or burned alive. Those seeking an investigation of his part in the Waco outrage say that Clark not only played a hidden role in the military-style assault on the Branch Davidians, but easily could have refused to participate in what was a clear violation of the Posse Comitatus Act that bars use of the U.S. military for civilian law-enforcement activities.
Although Clark never publicly has discussed his role in the attack on the Branch Davidians and did not respond to Insight's requests for an interview to discuss his role at Waco, there are indisputable facts that confirm he had knowledge of the grim plans to bring the standoff to an end.
Between August 1992 and April 1994, Clark was commander of the 1st Cavalry Division of the Army's III Corps at Fort Hood, Texas. According to a report by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the list of military personnel and equipment used at Waco included: 15 active-duty military personnel, 13 Texas National Guard personnel, nine Bradley fighting vehicles, five combat-engineer vehicles, one tank-retrieval vehicle and two M1A1 Abrams tanks. Additionally, Fort Hood reportedly was used for much of the training for the bloody attack on the Davidians and their children.
Based on the fact that military equipment from Fort Hood was used in the siege and that training was provided there, say critics, it is clear the commanding officer of the 1st Cavalry had direct knowledge of the attack and, more likely than not, was involved in the tactical planning.
West Point graduate Joseph Mehrten Jr. tells Insight that, "Clark had to have knowledge about the plan because there is no way anyone could have gotten combat vehicles off that base without his OK. The M1A1 Abrams armor is classified 'Secret,' and maybe even 'Top Secret,' and if it was deployed as muscle for something like Waco there would have been National Firearms Act weapons issues. Each of these M1A1 Abrams vehicles is armed with a 125-millimeter cannon, a 50-caliber machine gun and two 30-caliber machine guns, which are all very heavily controlled items, requiring controls much like a chain of legal custody. It is of critical importance that such vehicles could not have been moved for use at Waco without Clark's knowledge."
"This is something that the general staff would know in the daily situation report or manning reports. Clark would have known and, given his obsession for micromanagement, there is probably someone who can place him on the scene. He wouldn't have been able to resist going in. At the very least there is no way he didn't have knowledge," Mehrten continues.
So what if the general was aware that his military equipment was being used against American civilians, and so what if he even participated in the planning? Wasn't he just following orders from above?
"To follow that order," explains Mehrten, "is to follow a blatantly illegal order of a kind every West Point officer knows is a violation of the Posse Comitatus Act. Clark's obligation was to say, 'No, I'm not going to do it.' Look, Clark went to the same institution I did and at West Point we had extensive instruction in military ethics and issues concerning how one avoids obeying an illegal military order. It is drilled into our heads from the earliest days as cadets that the 'I-was-just-following-orders' defense isn't necessarily a good one."
He had the juice to say no, concludes Mehrten, "and he could have and should have. But if he had done so he probably wouldn't have gotten his next star. There is a reason critics say this man was not recommended by the military for that fourth star but got it anyway because of political clout, just as there is a reason that Chief of Staff Hugh Shelton brought him home early from Europe because of 'character and integrity issues.' Sure the Bradley vehicle could have been operated by a civilian, but that's unlikely. This military equipment is very specialized and would be virtually useless in the hands of untrained operators. But just using military equipment against civilians is running way afoul of Posse Comitatus. Legally, if he were involved in it and there were active-duty units where these armored vehicles came from, then it is a clear violation of the act. Clark's command at the time, 1st Cavalry, is an active-duty federal division and it is my understanding that these vehicles used at Waco were from Fort Hood his command."
Tom Fitton, president of the Washington-based Judicial Watch, believes Clark has some questions to answer.
"The question for Clark," explains Finton, "is a fair one in terms of corruption. Many Americans still are troubled by what occurred at Waco, and we're very interested in his role. Many people are going to ask what are his views of the force [attorney general] Janet Reno used at Waco and they'll want to know if he, were he to become president of the United States, would authorize that kind of force again. Specifically, was Gen. Clark comfortable allowing forces and equipment under his command to participate in a police raid or, at best, a hostage situation? People are going to want to know these things."
Michael McNulty, an investigative journalist and Oscar nominee for his documentary, Waco: The Rules of Engagement, tells Insight that, "From the standpoint of what went on that operation had military fingerprints all over it. The chain of command being what it is, Clark had some responsibility, but to what degree we really don't know."
McNulty takes a deep breath and then says, "My military sources tell me that Clark and his second in command got the communication from then-governor of Texas Ann Richards, who wanted help with Waco. At that point Clark or [Gen. Peter J.] Schoomaker should have asked themselves, 'Religious community? Civilians, they want our tanks?' and hung up the phone. Clark had to be involved at the tactical level, he had to know what the tactical plan was and he'd have to approve it. No one has ever asked these questions of this man. Clark wasn't even asked to testify before the congressional committee investigating the circumstances of Waco. For me the real question is one of character and, because of the cover-up that's gone on with Waco, it could even be a question of criminality. From the get-go, when the assignment came down from III Corps, which is the primary Army unit at Fort Hood and his division, Wesley Clark had the opportunity to say 'Hey, wait a minute folks, we're not gonna give tanks and personnel to the FBI to use on civilians!'"
True, explains McNulty, "Clark didn't do this in a vacuum. Whatever he did he at least is guilty of being a good German following orders. He was in a position to put his foot down and say no. It was his men, his equipment and his command. Everything that happened at Waco, from the beginning, the U.S. military was involved including the strategic and tactical planning that went on from Feb. 29 to April 19. Why weren't the guys making the decisions debriefed and questioned by the committee? I would hope that Clark would answer these questions now, the sooner the better, because it appears that Waco is about to follow him into the political arena full force."
Kelly Patricia O'Meara is an investigative reporter for Insight.
Clark wants President Bush's job
Former general is critical of president's handling of war in Iraq and economy
PORTLAND - Two months prior to Maine's Democratic caucus on Feb. 8, presidential candidate Gen. Wesley Clark spoke at a town hall meeting in Portland Wednesday to garner support for his campaign.
Sounding a now-familiar theme, Clark expressed dismay to the audience of approximately 150 that the country is in an "unnecessary war."
"I watched in horror as it began to unfold," he said of the invasion of Iraq that started in March, adding that the U.S. military is in Iraq without its allies, without a plan and without adequate forces.
"I don't think you have to wait till the ship of state capsizes to get a new captain," he said. While Clark said he's not running to "bash George Bush," adding, "I know it's hard to resist," he said, "I'm running to replace him."
Referring to his military background at West Point and in Vietnam and Bosnia, Clark said he values a strong military but said he would use it "only, only, only as a last resort, not because it looks expedient or easy."
Clark also talked about the need for a new foreign policy. "We're going to become an inclusive, not exclusive, nation," he said, calling for the need to transform the United Nations and return the troops to the United States. America needs to focus fighting against al Qaeda and terrorists, rather than Iraq, he said to loud applause.
The former NATO supreme allied commander also bristled at the notion that criticizing the government's current policy in Iraq is unpatriotic. In a democracy, dialogue and discussion are crucial, he said.
Clark also spoke of his concern about domestic issues, such as the economy and jobs. "The economy is really not about statistics, it's about people," he said, indicating that while some recent economic statistics are encouraging, overall job losses have not been overcome during the Bush presidency. "We're not keeping pace with the labor force," he said.
The candidate also spoke of the need to provide health coverage for every American child and to enforce environmental laws.
Mentioning divisions among Americans in recent decades over such issues as the Vietnam War, the Cold War, civil rights, taxes and patriotism, Clark said of his campaign, "Most of all, we're going to bring this country together."
Citing that "we're at a critical time in American history," Clark said: "This election will decide the course of the country for our children and grandchildren."
He said the current administration is dictated by special interests and big businesses rather than its citizens, and urged that Americans concern themselves not with the inheritance the wealthy can pass on, but the legacy.
Audience members responded warmly to Clark's speech, although some remained skeptical that he could capture the necessary support to beat President Bush.
Stephen Joffe of Gorham said he had donated money to Clark's campaign that morning and would probably donate more money that afternoon. "He's a tremendous speaker," he said of Clark, adding that the former Rhodes Scholar is sincere, passionate and has an impressive command of the issues. Plus, he said, he's the only Democratic candidate that's electable.
"The question is, can he get enough, play fast enough?" asked Joffe.
Earl Allen of Portland is also a Clark fan but agreed that Clark needs more public exposure, particularly in rural communities and states.
Electability isn't the sole issue on Clark's mind. "I'd like you to like me, too," he said.
Not surprisingly, Maine Republicans are critical of Clark.
"Gen. Clark has been so inconsistent in his position regarding the war in Iraq that it appears his political ambitions have superseded his principles," said Joe Gallant, Maine Veterans vice chairman for Bush-Cheney '04 in a press release issued by the Maine Republican Party.
Clark knocks Bush for saying dissenters are unpatriotic
By Chris Pedler
TUTOR 20 years classroom experience. Custom lessons by nuturing, supportive teacher.
EXETER - Four-star Gen. Wesley Clark, one of nine Democratic candidates for president, spoke Wednesday night at Phillips Exeter Academy to an audience of 150 about his vision for a "new American patriotism," which has become the central theme of his campaign.
Clark called 2004 a "crucial election in American history" and criticized the Bush administration for failures in foreign, domestic and economic policies. "If we make the wrong choice [in 2004]," he said, "we will have a country that is isolated from its friends and attacks workers to give tax cuts to the wealthy. Theres something wrong with that America, in my view."
After asking all the veterans in the audience to stand up and be recognized, Clark made the most impassioned plea of his short speech to protect the American flag and the American principles he believes it stands for. "Ive served under this flag, watched brave men and women die under it, and no Tom Delay, John Ashcroft or George Bush is going to take this flag away from us."
He particularly criticized the Bush administration for attempting to silence democratic discussion by stigmatizing dissenters as unpatriotic. He ended his remarks this way: "I believe that in 2004 the president will unscrupulously use national security, patriotism and the American flag to try to crush the Democratic Party and the democratic spirit in America. Im running because that cant happen."
Clark described a foreign policy that involved the use of force only as a last resort, to be chosen only after attempted negotiations, the involvement of nongovernmental organizations and the gathering of allies. As president, he would strengthen NATO and attempt to work out an agreement with Europe that would enshrine plans to work together on threats to the security of either the United States or the European Union.
Asked how he was qualified to govern and initiate domestic policy, Clark explained that as a general and base commander in the Army, he was responsible for all aspects of the lives of the men who served under him - from health insurance and child care to the conditions of the roads around the base. He pointed out that when he served as NATO supreme allied commander in Kosovo during the late 1990s, he was responsible for 44,000 schoolchildren across southeastern Europe.
To pay for his $700 billion, 10-year health-care proposal, which would attempt to give all Americans affordable access to health insurance, Clark would revoke Bushs tax cut for those making over $200,000 a year. He would also close corporate loopholes.
Clark proposed offering more aid to the states so better-funded public universities could lower their tuition costs and students could receive more direct aid. He also offered a voluntary civil service program in which students would receive tuition aid in return for working domestically or abroad.
A number of people in the audience seemed bothered by the lack of specificity in some of Clarks other proposals. Peter Smith, of Exeter, said he is specifically looking for the candidate who will best be able to beat President Bush in November 2004, and he noted that Clark has a number of strengths unusual for a Democrat.
"He brings to the table a military background, Southern connections and foreign policy expertise, all of which are areas that have been owned by Republicans," Smith said. "The Democrats will not get elected if they dont get some votes in the South."
Democratic icon Gaylord Nelson backs Clark
By David Callender
January 10, 2004
Former U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson, one of the state's most revered political figures, has decided to endorse Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark.
Nelson, who helped graft the roots of the Progressive Party onto the modern-day Democratic Party in the state and served as Wisconsin's governor and U.S. senator for more than 20 years, is set to formally endorse Clark today during a teleconference while Clark makes a campaign swing through Superior.
Nelson praised all nine Democrats seeking their party's nomination for president, but said Clark is "first-rate and has the best chance to win."
"He's a forward-thinking young fellow with great experience for these times," Nelson told The Capital Times, citing Clark's previous role as supreme commander of NATO.
Nelson, the founder of Earth Day, said he decided to endorse Clark more than a month ago, in part because of his support from former Sen. Dale Bumpers who, like Clark, hails from Arkansas.
"Dale was very high on him," Nelson said, adding that Bumpers and he were both impressed by Clark's detailed stands on air and water quality issues.
Nelson's endorsement is another sign of the intense focus Clark's campaign is placing on Wisconsin.
Clark is the only candidate with TV ads airing around the state. The ads began running in the state's top five TV markets last week and will continue until the Feb. 17 primary.
Clark also has sent his deputy national campaign manager, Peter Shakow, to head the Wisconsin operation.
And last weekend Clark turned to Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton to help shore up his support among women voters in New Hampshire.
Campaign observers say Clark is hoping that a strong showing in Wisconsin's open primary will demonstrate his appeal to a broader base of supporters than rivals Howard Dean, Dick Gephardt and John Kerry.
Clark, who entered the race in September, decided later in the fall to bypass the Iowa caucuses, which mark the start of the campaign season, although in recent weeks he has made several trips to Iowa. Instead he is focusing on New Hampshire, with its Jan. 27 primary, and the several Southern and Western states with primaries on Feb. 3. Polls show him within striking distance of Dean, the front-runner, in New Hampshire.
In addition to this weekend's appearance in Superior, Clark will be in Racine on Tuesday for a "Working for Wisconsin" forum sponsored by the state Democratic Party and moderated by Gov. Jim Doyle.
Published: 10:26 PM 1/09/04
|02/11/2004 07:45 PM|
|Wesley Clark Quits Presidential Race|
|Wesley Clark will be withdrawing from the presidential race and will be going home to Arkansas. He will be making the official announcement from Little Rock, where Clark currently lives.|
|Clark consulted first with family members before withdrawing, and those family members had urged him to stay on and fight. Clark has won just one of the 14 states holding primary elections to decide the Democrat who will fight Bush in November.|
|Out of those 14 states, Senator John Kerry has won 12, and "The mountain got too steep to climb," according to Clark's senior advisor, Matt Bennett. Clark's withdrawal is the 5th for the Democrat's, and five candidates remain.|
Retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark dropped out of the Democratic presidential race Wednesday after third-place finishes in two key Southern primaries.
February 11, 2004 updated at 3:01PM CT
Wesley Clark dropped out of the race for the White House Wednesday. The retired four-star general was unable to command significant support as a first-time presidential candidate.
Clark told supporters in Little Rock this afternoon that "This is the end of the campaign for the presidency."
Clark had praise for the remaining rivals in the race for the Democratic Party presidential nomination. He described John Kerry, John Edwards and Howard Dean as "good men, good Democrats and good patriots."
In his 20-minute address, Clark criticized George Bush, saying the president was pursuing a "fatally flawed" foreign policy.
Clark entered the race last fall, hoping to use his military experience as an asset that could carry him to the presidency. He showed significant fund-raising ability, and for a time topped national preference polls.
However, in 14 state primaries and caucuses, Clark finished first only once, in a narrow victory in Oklahoma. He didn't enter the Iowa caucuses, and some say that cost him because his absence might have helped Kerry pick up the veterans' vote.
Kerry won Iowa, which propelled him to victories in 11 other states.
Clark said he will support the eventual Democratic nominee in the fall.
(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)