Thursday, April 13, 2006

Updated: Media Coverage Of Congressman Ford's Kickoff Tour Day 2

Ford: It's Not About Party

U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Jr. told a crowd of about 150 supporters in Knoxville on Tuesday that the country's long-term security relies on reducing dependency on foreign oil.

On the second day of a four-day statewide bus tour to formally announce his bid for the U.S. Senate, Ford said the United States should invest in new engine technologies, hybrid vehicles and alternative fuels.

Ford, a Democrat speaking to the party faithful at the Foundry in World's Fair Park, said party affiliation means less to voters than the ability to "get things done."

"Running for the senate isn't about left and right anymore," he said.

Noting that oil prices had surged close to $70 a barrel and gas prices in Knoxville average $2.62 a gallon, he added, "There isn't a Democratic or Republican way to pay $69 a barrel for oil."

Ford said energy independence would require a visionary effort such as the push to build the interstate highway system or to land on the moon. He said removing the country's dependence on foreign oil would remove the need for military action in the future.

The five-term congressman from Memphis also said he is committed to fiscal responsibility.

"I never voted for a budget that was not balanced," Ford said. "Never."

Ford said ending pork barrel spending, raising the retirement age for people now younger than 40 years old, and cutting spending would help reduce the deficit.

Ford said Democrats could succeed in regaining the seat now occupied by majority leader Bill Frist.

"People will flock to us," he said, "if we give them something different, something better - hope."
Ford is running against state Sen. Rosalind Kurita for the Democratic nomination.

Ford Campaign Bus Tour Stops In Chattanooga

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Harold Ford Jr. stopped in Chattanooga Tuesday night, sharing his message with dozens of people outside BellSouth Park at the Chattanooga Lookouts’ home opener.

"Not only will we win in November, but we’ll take a new spirit, a new work ethic and a new approach to Washington," the Memphis congressman said.

But Camille Anderson, a spokeswoman with the Republican National Committee, said Rep. Ford is out of touch with Volunteer State voters.

"No amount of travel can give Harold Ford mileage with East Tennessee families and their values," she said.

Rep. Ford’s Scenic City visit is part of a four-day bus tour across Tennessee on a colorful bus emblazoned with his name and campaign Web site address.

He campaigned Monday in Upper East Tennessee with former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, who has been mentioned as a possible Democratic presidential candidate in 2008.

Former U.S. Sen. Max Cleland, D-Ga., is scheduled to join Rep. Ford on the road today and Thursday.

Bruce Oppenheimer, a political science professor at Vanderbilt University, said Rep. Ford is not getting much of a challenge from his Democratic primary competitor, state Sen. Rosalind Kurita of Clarksville.

Meanwhile, the three candidates in the Republican primary — former Chattanooga Mayor Bob Corker and former U.S. Reps. Ed Bryant and Van Hilleary — are locked in a competitive primary, which Dr. Oppenheimer said is an advantage for Rep. Ford.

"The Republicans at this point are spending some time going after Ford," Dr. Oppenheimer said. "But most of their fire is on one another. I think the closer they get to the primary, more of the fire will be reserved for going after each other."

The Ford campaign has a breakfast planned here this morning for first responders. His bus tour will continue to other communities, including Nashville and Clarksville, Tenn., before ending in Memphis on Thursday.