Thursday, April 27, 2006

Ford Swings Into 2 Towns

During a multiday campaign sweep through Middle Tennessee, Congressman Harold Ford Jr. met Tuesday with the young and old to pitch his credentials and candidacy for the U.S. Senate.

Ford began his day on the stump at Trousdale County High School in Hartsville with students and Principal Toby Woodmore giving him a warm welcome. The fifth-term congressman is campaigning to fill the Senate seat being vacated by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who is not running for re-election.

In his remarks, Ford touched on issues such as terrorism and the War in Iraq as well the country’s energy policy. But he managed to provide his young audience with an optimistic message.

“I care about your future, because I believe you are the ones that will have to figure it all out,” Ford told students. “If elected, I want to provide the teachers and staff (with the resources) to help make our futures the brightest they can be.”

He also challenged students to take their education seriously to be ready to face future challenges popping up now.

“Take every math, science, language and culture class you can,” he said. “One of the greatest challenges the military is facing right now is the soldiers don’t understand what the Iraqis are saying.”

Ford, who is crafting his campaign around a strategy of pitching pragmatic solutions to long-standing policy debates and hot-button social issues, continued relaying those themes Tuesday.

“If technology can find ways to make iPods smaller then we can find a way to make gas,” Ford explained to students, saying only through doing so will we “never have to send our parents, brothers or sisters to another war again.”

The fifth-term Democrat from Memphis also fielded questions from students about many pertinent social issues such as abortion, prayer in school and immigration.

“We have an immigration problem in this country, because everyone wants to come in and be here,” he said. “We do have to protect ourselves, though, and the first thing we have to do is protect our borders.”

Ford also suggested policymakers address the roots of the immigration problem.

“Why are they risking their lives to come to this country?” he said. “We also have to hold businesses accountable. If they are hiring illegal immigrants, then they should have to pay as well.”

Ford also used the question-and-answer session to advocate for a renewed energy policy that focuses more on employing the latest technology.

“It’s time to figure out other energy sources because if we don’t, we’ll always be at war with someone,” Ford said. “All the countries that have the oil either don’t like us or are unstable.”

Lebanon Quality Care Heath Care owner and administrator Dixie Taylor, who accompanied Ford through Hartsville and Lebanon, said she was as surprised by the quality of the student questions as she was impressed by Ford’s answers.

“He was so direct and open with them,” Taylor said.

Following the Trousdale high stop, Ford made a brief swing through Taylor’s nursing home facility in Lebanon.

Ford was met by a thunderous round of applause from many of the nearly 350 Quality Care employees.

Taylor then led Ford on a guided tour of the 290-patient facility before the congressman left for Washington, D.C.

Taylor said she brought up her own burning issues with Ford, such as the effects of the new federal prescription drug bill and recent reductions in Medicare reimbursements.

“Those cuts have really hurt. And where they hurt the most are in staff reimbursements,” Taylor said.

She said Ford was receptive to her concerns that lawmakers often fail to see the “trickle-down effect” of their policies.

“We don’t look at the people,” Taylor said. “This is a people profession, and we’re making it a paper profession.”

Sources: The Lebanon Democrat and The Hartsville Vidette