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Clark's message: 'Go Pats'

He steered clear of the Yankees-Red Sox wars. But finally, retired Army General Wesley K. Clark is taking sides in a New England-New York sports battle: Jets, schmets. He's a Patriots fan.

Proof comes in a 30-second ad the Clark campaign will run on New Hampshire's WMUR-TV during tomorrow night's Patriots-Jets game -- just in time for next month's New Hampshire primary.

"We as Americans know what it takes to be great," Clark says in the ad, as the camera closes tightly on his face. "It takes leadership. It takes teamwork. It takes spirit, and sacrifice, and commitment . . ."

"And let's face it, you have to be strong on defense," he continues, as the camera pulls back to reveal that he's wearing a Patriots sweatshirt. "You also need to be strong on offense. And having a heck of a quarterback doesn't hurt."

He concludes, with a little smile, "We are all Patriots."

Conveniently for Clark, Iowa has no football team.

Of course, it also doesn't hurt that "patriotism" figures largely in Clark's campaign literature. After all, this isn't the first time the Pats have squeezed good will from their name. When they headed to the Super Bowl in 2002, fans saw a good omen in the post-Sept. 11 flurry of red, white, and blue.

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