Union Tribune

January 27, 2004

N.H. freeze no match for San Diegans supporting Gen. Clark


NASHUA, N.H. There was something incongruous about the scene: Three smiling people standing on hard-frozen snow in single-digit temperatures holding a colorful hand-painted sign decorated with a palm tree and the words "San Diego for Clark."

But there they were yesterday, three San Diego County residents recently arrived in New Hampshire's deep freeze from their balmy communities to help their candidate, retired Gen. Wesley K. Clark, in today's presidential primary.

"My feet are freezing," Nancy Manesis of Rancho Bernardo said.

But Manesis was smiling as she helped Jean Little of Sabre Springs wave their large sign to cars driving past the Nashua City Hall before Clark's arrival.

Manesis, Little and Fred Rogers of San Diego had flown in from San Diego a day earlier to help Clark, who is fighting for at least a third-place finish in the Democratic presidential contest here to position himself for the next round of primaries.

Manesis, a human resources manager for San Diego State University Foundation, said the three were among the founders of the San Diego-area effort to draft Clark. Starting with nine members in North County, they now have close to 1,000 supporters signed up on their local Web site, she said.

Little, a former insurance lawyer who now does volunteer work for a wildlife rehabilitation program, said this was her first political effort. Manesis said she had lived in New Hampshire years ago and had experienced the state's intense form of politics. Rogers moved off into the small but boisterous crowd before he could be interviewed.

Asked why they chose Clark, Manesis cited his "leadership qualities and his foreign policy experience," while Little said he was "the right person, with the right vision and the right qualifications."

And, Manesis added, "He's the only one who can beat Bush," to which Little nodded agreement.

Neither of the women was bothered by the fact Clark had not registered as a Democrat until after he announced his candidacy and has admitted he voted for Presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, Republicans. Manesis noted Clark has said he voted for President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore when he lost to Bush in 2000.

"He supports Democratic values," Little said, specifically mentioning Clark's support for abortion rights and organized labor.

Manesis added, "He's the most honest individual I've ever heard."