Friday, August 05, 2005

Momentum Builds In Middle Tennessee

We have had another good trip across Middle Tennessee. With Congress starting our annual August recess, the campaign commenced a two day tour of Rutherford, Coffee, Franklin and Davidson counties. We toured manufacturing plants, military bases and a lumber supply company. We hosted Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, Democratic Senate Campaign Committee Chair Chuck Schumer - whose enthusiasm and focus are contagious - and my good friend and neighbor Senator Mark Pryor of Arkansas for lunch Tuesday in Nashville to discuss fundraising and strategy. I also had the opportunity to meet and discuss national security, politics, faith and football separately with Bishop Joseph Walker and my friend Lee Molette at Mt Zion Baptist Church and the great Tennessee Titan and entrepreneur Eddie George.

Tuesday also featured a 5:00 a.m. start time as I met Butch Stokes, Mike Spann, Vance Moran and Pete Vaughn at the Ford Motor Glass Plant to shake hands with workers ending and starting shifts respectively. The conversation was lively, engaging and supportive, especially for that early in the morning. For two hours, we talked with workers about jobs, war and health care, and also managed to put about 150 bumper stickers on cars in the parking lot.

We left there for a breakfast at Wendell Smith's with Councilman David Briley, Circuit Court Judge Bill Higgins and attorney Jim Higgins, who had been with us the night before at the IBEW hall with Brent Hall and Tennessee AFL-CIO President Jerry Lee. We shook hands with patrons and asked for votes. Later in the morning, I appeared on the Steve Gill morning show in Nashville, a local and influential conservative talk radio show before meeting with my friend John Bernard at Horizon Wine and Spirits to talk about the national and state economy, tourism and campaign strategy. He's got a great team there. John explained the need for the federal government to get a handle on these exploding fiscal and trade deficits. He is right.

Tuesday ended in a very special way. I had the chance to join a friend and mentor, John Pitts, as he was inducted into the Tennessee Insurance Hall of Fame. His son Johnny, also a terrific guy, and I arranged it along with association executive director Chuck Bidek to surprise the 78 year old cancer survivor and World War II veteran. It was a delight and honor for me to have had the chance to say a few words on the program in front of so many important business leaders from across the state. More importantly, it was special being there with the Pitts family. Again, I thank Johnny for letting me be a part of it.

A late dinner ended the day with Music Row Democrats Bill Carter, Don Cook and Bob Titley to talk issue development, fundraising and campaign strategy.

I know I'm doing this in reverse order, but Monday was equally invigorating with an early start at Crosslin Building Supply. I thank Congressman Bart Gordon, Kent Siler and the Crosslin family for arranging the chance for a Ford for Tennessee town hall meeting in the store. Coon Victory, Tom Neff, Jim Dixon and especially Eddie Crosslin, I thank for the education about how the economy affects their industries and communities like Smyrna. It was also good to see friends on my last visit to Smyrna, Toby Francis, Glen Foutch and Regina McAdoo.

We left there for a brief visit at the Tennessee Air National Guard base in Smyrna where we were hosted by Lt. Col William Wenzler. Tennessee National Guard Government Relations Liaison Suzanne Mitchell, who I appreciate, led us on our tour. Lt. Col Wenzler spoke about the challenge the Guard is having meeting recruiting goals for the year, which for them ends on September 30. Later during the visit, we met with members of the 45th Civil Support Team (CST) and received a briefing from Deputy Commander, Major David R. Smith and Master Sergeant Steve Sarten of Bartlett.

The 45th CST supports state and local first responders if there is a weapons of mass destruction attack or other catastrophe. The unit's capabilities are impressive. They recently conducted a drill on McKellar Lake in Memphis - one of our state's largest harbors - which also has a very high potential for a terrorist attack or catastrophic event. The 45th CST, which is fully funded by the federal government and doesn't cost the state a penny, has the kind of assets and joint operating capabilities that we need to ensure that Tennesseans get immediate and effective response and recovery to a terrorist attack or other catastrophe. They are an impressive group.

We then traveled to Franklin county and joined my friend Mayor Monty Adams for a tour of Arnold Air Force Base with Brigadier General David Stringer. General Stringer's command of facts about the inner-working and history of the base was stunning. He shared with us the genesis of the base, which simply put is that General Hap Arnold after Pearl Harbor never wanted American forces at a disadvantage in aerial combat. Thus, Arnold Air Force Base was birthed. The base represents the most important aerial and space research center within the U.S. military. It is safe to say most Americans, or Tennesseans for that matter, are unaware of Arnold's presence in Tennessee.

After the Arnold tour and lunch on the grounds, we toured Tullahoma Industries, where more than 550,000 21st century army combat uniforms are being made. We saw the process up close and personal as I walked the floor with Richard Davenport, his son Jamie and Tullahoma Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Diane Bryant. I walked away from the experience convinced that we as a nation could find ways to create and keep jobs in America. Lowering costs and taxes on American business, without compromising health care and workplace safety, can be accomplished. In fact, we must if America is to stay competitive and dominant in the 21st century.

Again, I thank the Tullahoma Industries family for their hard work, dedication and patriotism.

We ended the day with visits to the Franklin County Farmer's Co-op and the Duck River Electric Cooperative.

At Franklin County Farmer's Co-op, Doug Swann introduced us to farmers and ranchers who talked about farm prices and agriculture policy. I enjoyed meeting Doug Dye, Chairman of the Franklin County school board and Franklin County Commissioner Larry Quinn at the Co-op.

My good friend General Manager Jim Allison and his wife Kim led the tour of the Duck River Electric Cooperative, along with District Manager Mike Mullins. Providing services to hundreds of thousands of members across Tennessee, the electric cooperatives are important business and civic partners in every community they operate. I thank them.

The Franklin County Chamber of Commerce was our next visit where I met Lynn Chestnutt of Sun Trust Bank, Trey Hodos of Wal-Mart, Chris Tiger of V.R. Williams, Chris Rose of V.R. Williams and Stephanie Williams and Mamie "Dolores" Janush of the Chamber.

Before leaving Franklin County I spoke at a Democratic Women's catfish fry. Let me just say, the cloggers were entertaining, the catfish hit the spot and the excitement was palpable in the auditorium. I want to thank the county party chair Joe Yokley, who at 82, moves around like a 28 year old, Julie Hill, President of Franklin County Democratic Women and the event's cooks County Commissioner Barbara Finney, Virginia Sawyer and Johnnie Braswell. It was good to see most of the county's elected officials including Franklin County Mayor Monty Adams and his wife Elizabeth, State Representative George Fraley and his wife Betty, Winchester Mayor Richard Stewart, Circuit Court Clerk Nancy Silvertooth, Circuit Court Judge Buddy Perry, Chancellor Jeff Stewart, Judge Tom Faris, Register of Deeds Lydia Johnson, Franklin County Clerk Nina Tucker, Trustee Randy Kelly, Assessor Phillip Hayes, County Commissioners Sue Hill, Hogan McDonald and Larry Quinn and Road Commissioner Bobby Clark.

We left after putting bumper stickers on every car and headed to Nashville for a rally at the IBEW hall. In short, we had some kind of day on both Monday and Tuesday. I look forward to continuing our tour of Tennessee and appreciate all of the support we are receiving.


Harold Ford

From: Campaign email