Friday, April 14, 2006

Media Roundup On Ford Campaign Kickoff Tour

Ford Jr.: We've lost our standing

The U.S. has lost standing in the world, Democrat Harold Ford Jr. thinks, which is hurting this country's efforts at getting support for sanctions against Iran's nuclear program.

The 9th District congressman who's running for the U.S. Senate made a brief stop in downtown Sevierville Tuesday during a campaign swing through East Tennessee.

He greeted about 30 local Democrats who had gathered on the sidewalk. Ford said some question why he would spend time campaigning in an area that is so heavily Republican.

"I think people are tired of things - I don't think they're automatically ready to jump to the Democrats, but I think they're tired of what's going on right now, and I think we've got a great chance to win people to our side as long as we're not being perceived as being negative and nasty, divisive and ugly in how we talk about them," Ford said.

He believes Republican leaders have taken voters in the eastern part of the state for granted.

Among the concerns he has heard about along his travels are military veterans who don't like the way they are being treated, including their health care needs. He also has heard concerns about the possibility of $3-a-gallon gasoline and President Bush planning an attack against Iran.

"Think about it," Ford said. "First of all we've lost a lot of our stature in the eyes of a lot of key countries in the world. China and Russia don't respect us like they used to - it's hard to sit with them and try to explain why it's important they not do business with Iran. Second is that (those countries' leaders) say look, (Iraq and Iran) have oil and America needs to meet the energy needs in our country."

He criticized Bush for not having an energy policy that reduces dependence on oil.

"We're the first generation of Americans in history that have been at war and paid for that war, yet we subsidize our enemies every time we go to the gas pump. I don't buy the notion that we can't figure a way to get out of this - the insurgents get money from us buying all this gasoline," Ford said.

While Ford, who faces State Sen. Rosalind Kurita in the Aug. 3 Democratic Primary, said mistakes have been made in the Iraq war, "in the short term, we got to fight the war.

"The Iraqis have got to form their own government; if they don't, we don't have a partner," he said. "If the Iraqi people don't want to govern themselves, we can't stay there indefinitely. If they show a willingness to form a government and do it, we need to stick it out long enough to make sure our investment pays off."

Regarding the political problems of members of his family - his uncle was indicted in the Tennessee Waltz investigation and his aunt won a legislative seat by 13 votes in a race tinged with allegations of voter fraud - Ford said, "When you find a recipe for choosing family, send it to me. Until then, realize I'm running for the Senate, not them. If you don't want to debate me, don't go attacking my family."

Ford promised to return to Sevier County to campaign despite its long history of Republican support.

"Show me a Republican who likes to spend $3 per gallon for gas, who likes paying too much for prescription drugs, who believes we're doing all the right things in Iraq, and who likes all this money that they're spending in Washington, D.C., and they probably won't vote for me. But with those who care about those things, I think we've got a chance to win some of those votes," he said.

U.S. Senate Candidate Ford Speaks To Mosheim Students

U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Jr., a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, was enthusiastically received Tuesday morning when he addressed several hundred students at Mosheim Elementary and Middle School.

Ford, who represents the state?s 9th congressional district in Memphis, said Tuesday?s visit was his first campaign stop in Greene County as a U.S. Senate candidate.

Ford is seeking the seat held by U.S. Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., who is not seeking re-election.

The primary election is Aug. 3, and the general election is Nov. 7.

State Sen. Rosalind Kurita, D-Clarksville, is also seeking the Democratic nomination.

Republicans campaigning for the GOP nomination include former Chattanooga mayor Bob Corker, and former congressmen Ed Bryant and Van Hilleary.

Four-Day Bus Tour

Ford, who is 35, began his four-day ?New Generation of Leadership? bus tour on Monday with a stop in Kingsport.

The bus tour was scheduled to conclude in Memphis today.

Ford spoke in a relaxed, at times humorous, way for half an hour to the attentive assembly of Mosheim School students.

Ford barely talked politics when interacting with the students except for a general civics lesson about America?s three branches of government, and its checks-and-balances system.

Experience As Second-Grader

Ford spent most of his time recounting his own experience as a disobedient second-grader who was disciplined for playing in the woods next to his elementary school in Memphis.

Ford said he deservedly was paddled by the school?s principal, because he broke the school?s rule to stay out of those woods.

Ford said he recalled Miss Pattie Jackson, the school?s principal, saying, ?This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you,? before she paddled him eight times.

Ford said Jackson is now a big campaign supporter of his, and is active in her church in Memphis.

The U.S. Senate candidate told the students that, as a result of his paddling experience, he learned four things:

1. Never play in the woods;

2. Always do his homework;

3. Don?t laugh at other students who make mistakes; and

4. ?I didn?t want to get paddled again.? Has Visited Iraq Four Times Ford told the students he had visited Iraq four times since U.S. troops invaded that country.

?We?ve got a long way to go to get (Iraqi) third- and fourth-graders to understand who we (Americans) are, and us to understand them,? Ford said.

He said one problem in Iraq he heard from soldiers there was that more English speakers were needed in that country to teach English to Iraqi school children.

Ford also said that in American classrooms, ?We need to help kids in America understand other kids (around the world) a lot better.?

Officials who attended Ford?s discussion included Greene County Mayor Roger Jones, who is a Democrat; Assistant Director of Schools Judy Phillips; Greene County School Board Vice Chairman R. L. ?Tom? Carpenter; school board member and Mosheim Vice Mayor Claude Weems Jr.; and Jack West, chairman of the Greene County Democratic Party.

Yhona Jones, principal of Mosheim Elementary and Middle School and wife of County Mayor Jones, introduced Rep. Ford to the students.

East Tennessee ?Very Important? After the discussion, Ford told a reporter in brief comments that East Tennessee was ?very important? for him and his campaign.

?I think we can win counties in East Tennessee,? Ford said.

The candidate said, ?People don?t want big government. Our (federal) deficit is too large; and taxes are too high on the middle class.?

Ford voted in the 108th Congress to fund the Iraq War, against President Bush?s tax cuts, and to ban partial-birth abortions, according to the ?2006 Almanac of American Politics.?

On Tuesday, he told the reporter that he supported a victorious U.S. resolution to the war, but that ?people want smarter policies in the (Iraq) War.?

Ford said in the interview that he had ?strong, conservative values,? believed in spending taxpayer money ?wisely,? and supported the distribution of tax money to faith-based organizations.