PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (AP) – Wesley Clark, in a bold statement of his own Tuesday, said he has not ruled out Hillary Rodham Clinton as a running mate if he wins the Democratic presidential nomination.

Campaigning here hours before the eighth and final Democratic candidates’ debate of the year, the retired Army general said he has admired the New York senator and former first lady ever since meeting her 20 years ago at a leadership conference in France.

“I love Hillary Clinton and we will certainly keep that in mind,” Clark said, referring to her potential as a running mate. “Hillary Clinton – she’s fabulous. She’s a great person and a great leader.”

There’s a slight problem, however. Clinton has said repeatedly that she intends to complete her Senate term, which ends in 2006.

An aide reiterated her position Tuesday after hearing of Clark’s musings. Clark made his comments about Clinton the same day that former Vice President Al Gore endorsed Clark rival Howard Dean, boosting Dean’s front-running campaign.

“Senator Clinton is flattered by the praise but has repeatedly said that she will serve out her full six-year term,” spokesman Joe Householder said.

Earlier in the week, Clinton dismissed suggestions that she could be asked to become the Democrats’ vice presidential nominee.

“That is not going to happen,” she said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “That is so far out of the realm of the possible. That is not going to happen.

“Look, I’m going to support the nominee,” Clinton added. “I hope we’re going to have victory. And then I’ll support the nominee, whoever it is, assuming that person does a good job, for re-election in ’08.”

AP-ES-12-09-03 1710EST

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