The Essence of Politics

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Enough is Enough

If we want to see change in America than we the youth of America need to provoke that change. I am not a Republican or Democrat and I don't vote for only Republicans or Democrats because I believe that individuals need to be held accountable for their own actions. Therefore as young people and the present and future of America, we need to learn that voting for strictly one party doesn't help us because there are some good Republicans and Democrats on both sides. So until we learn to vote for individuals not party affiliations than we will never overcome the status quo of American politics. Let's change the face of American politics and start putting people in office based on their record as an individual and not what party they belong to. Enough is enough and I am ready for change.

CAPITOL VIEW

By Pat Nolan, Senior Vice President, Dye, Van Mol & Lawrence Public Relations

October 20, 2006

With the first votes now being cast in the U.S. Senate race, endorsements, along with the attack ads, continue to be front and center in the campaigns.

For Democrats, that means continuing to link Congressman Harold Ford, Jr. with incumbent Governor Phil Bredesen. Bredesen is heavily favored to win re-election and his coattails of assistance could really help Ford in a tight race.

The latest includes a direct mail piece paid for by the State Democratic Party which features color photos of both Ford and Bredesen and tells voters they have 14 days to change America by casting their ballots early. The piece says that change means Democratic leadership in Tennessee and Washington and claims Governor Bredesen has Tennessee moving again and that Ford will get the country back on track.

The mailer also tries to link Republican Senate nominee Bob Corker to President Bush’s low popularity numbers. It shows a picture of President Bush speaking during an Oval Office address with someone holding a TV remote. The caption reads “don’t just change the channel, change America.”

And look for the Bredesen-Ford connection to be further united soon with several days of joint campaigning across the state. Several private polls taken within the last 2 weeks or so, show Ford has anywhere from a 7 to 12 point lead in Tennessee’s 5 congressional districts held by Democrats. That could free up Ford and Bredesen to do a lot of their campaigning in the GOP parts of the state. One place Bredesen may clearly help Ford is in the Knoxville area which Bredesen carried four years ago and where Ford is reportedly running pretty well.

As for the Corker campaign, he seems to be spending most of his time building his base in the four Congressional districts now held by Republicans, especially the three in East Tennessee. As for the other GOP-held district in West Tennessee, Corker seems to be looking for help from a former primary foe, Ed Bryant.

Bryant, also a former Congressman in that area, has a new TV ad praising Corker for what he did as Mayor of Chattanooga, such things as cutting crime, improving education, revitalizing the city and building affordable housing. These are life experiences Bryant says we need in the U.S. Senate. As for their very bitter primary, Bryant admits in the ad “it was spirited” but he adds that Corker “is a good man” and “there wasn’t a day I didn’t respect Bob”. It will be interesting to see how that plays with voters, since they both called each other liars repeatedly in the final days of the primary.

Of course, we won’t know whose endorsements work better until November 7.
MORE ON BRYANT AND BREDESEN….

The emergence of Ed Bryant as a potential “closer” for the Bob Corker campaign is a little odd and unexpected in some ways. Sure, like a good Republican he endorsed Corker as the nominee and did a little nominal campaigning for him early on (just like the other defeated candidate, Van Hilleary).

But while Hilleary has faded out of sight (for good?), Bryant has re-emerged. Is it because Tom Ingram and others in the Corker camp realize he might be the best person who can truly move GOP conservatives to come back to the fold and win the race for Corker in November?

Even among Corker supporters Bryant seems to carry a lot of clout. I understand when he was introduced (and his new ad played for the first time) to a statewide meeting of campaign leaders from all 95 counties recently, he got a standing ovation.

But if Bryant can really move the GOP, why does his ad make NO mention of any of the social conservative issues (like abortion) where so many in the Republican base find Bob Corker lacking? Even a recent Pat Robertson-CBN national cable news story made Harold Ford look better on these issues than Corker. Yikes!

Maybe there’s just so much any “closer” can do? Or maybe staying away from those issues was part of the agreement between Bryant and the Corker campaign to cut the ad and come back and campaign for him? More to come…

As for Governor Bredesen, along with supporting Harold Ford, he is pushing a broad ballot of Democrats he would like to see elected to the General Assembly. That has not gone unnoticed by Republicans. While they are truly concerned about Bredesen’s strong potential coattails, they believe he may be over-reaching and that instead of more political support, the Governor may reap a backlash in the next session of legislature, as GOP members (who have been critical to the approval of many of the Governor’s proposals in his first term) become even more partisan than usual.

So watch the Governor’s batting average election night (how many candidates he is supporting win). It may tell you a lot about how successful the early years of Bredesen’s second term will be.












FORD/ROCHELLE

For someone who is really counting on the coattails of another candidate (the Governor), Harold Ford, Jr. may not have made a wise choice by endorsing and attending a recent fund raiser for State Senate candidate Bob Rochelle. Coattails or tying yourself to another candidate can also hurt you.

Rochelle is a former Senator and one of the most outspoken legislative leaders for a state income tax a few years back. Rochelle now says such a tax is a dead issue and he would only support it if it was approved by a voter referendum.

But the intense controversy over Rochelle rages on and Ford endorsing him is particularly poor timing when the Democrat is trying to connect Bob Corker to the income tax controversy through his work as State Finance Commissioner for former Governor (and strong income tax supporter) Don Sundquist.

It’s sends a very mixed and confusing message to voters at a very critical time. It may also now tie up Ford in the old income tax controversy (in which he has played no role) rather than talking about why he would be the best next U.S. Senator for Tennessee.

Sometimes in politics you have to do what you have to do. Rochelle’s district (along with the rest of the doughnut counties around Nashville) are critical for Ford in his plans to win the Senate seat. So he can’t afford to alienate Rochelle or his supporters. But Ford has been adept at avoiding political blunders (note his ability to stay neutral and so far not get politically hurt concerning the race for his own Congressional seat between the Democratic nominee State Senator Steve Cohen and Ford’s own brother, Jake). Anybody who can finesse something like that surely ought to be smart enough not to get caught up in this potential political trap (or at least no win situation) regarding Bob Rochelle. Dumb.


THE ADS….

I guess even without “the full Fred”, the current endorsement ad, voiced by former Senator Fred Thompson for Bob Corker, must be pretty effective.

The National Democratic Senate Committee has put up its own ad attacking the Thompson spot almost point by point. You don’t waste valuable campaign time and money on something like that, unless that ad has been working, even if it is a very unusual biographical ad not usually aired this late in a campaign cycle.

As for Corker’s other ads, he may need to be careful not to overdo it You can only push the “where did he grow up, where did he go to school (not UT like Bob), and who’s his family” so hard and so long or it could backfire on you.

Ford is already beginning the push back. You can see him talk about all the U.S. Senate race issues and controversies on my INSIDE POLITICS show this weekend. We air on NEWSCHANNEL 5 PLUS, COMCAST CHANNEL 50 at 7:30 PM Friday (October 20), then on Saturday (October 21) at 5:30 PM. On Sunday you can see the show at 5:00 AM, 12:30 PM and 8:30 PM. We are also appearing on NewsChannel 5, WTVF-TV at 5:00 AM on Saturday (October 21). Since we began our run on the main channel before we did our earlier interview with Bob Corker on INSIDE POLITICS, we will be repeating that show this Saturday at 5:30 AM right after the Ford interview.

A little doubleheader politics to begin your weekend!


THE POLLS….

The latest Wall Street Journal/Zogby poll must be like manna from heaven for the Corker campaign showing him up 7 points statewide (49%-42%) over Ford. That’s a much bigger change and margin than any other recent poll has shown and for sure, the internet-based technology used in that effort (as opposed to the more traditional surveys done by telephone) is bound to kick up a fuss again.

As usual, let’s wait and see what the other polls are showing in the next few days before drawing any conclusions or forecasting trends. But a surge in support is certainly what the Corker folks are looking for to energize their base and show they have overcome their slump (and major campaign shakeup from a few weeks ago).

One thing that can be said for sure I think is that under the new leadership of Tom Ingram, the Corker campaign has become much more focused and effective. It has likely stopped its slide and based on the fierce back and forth coming from each side, remains well positioned to still win the race. The Ford campaign remains strong but it is harder to see the momentum of a few weeks ago and that’s interesting given the strong national trends that seem to favor Democrats.

I am also puzzled a bit by another Wall Street Journal poll, this one with NBC News. It shows that nationwide (by the largest margin ever 52%-37%) voters plan to vote Democratic for Congress in November. The Republican-led Congress has an approval rating of just 16%. Ouch!

As the Democratic candidate that ought to help Harold Ford, although as a sitting U.S. Congressman (even a minority party member), he might still get a little backlash from the low esteem shown for Washington (and Corker is working hard to exploit that).

Still if both polls prove accurate, it would seem to show Tennessee is not following the national trend which seems to favor Democrats this cycle. And I find that someone curious. Also curious is what my sources in both camps are telling me. Both say their nightly tracking polls show them maintaining 4-5 point leads. How can that be? Well maybe how they are sampling the voters and how they are weighing the vote (how much from Middle, West and East Tennessee, what percentage women, black, men, etc) could make those kinds of differences.

As we get closer to the final days, I hear more and more people comparing the Harold Ford campaign (which even die-hard Republicans admit has been masterfully conducted so far) to other campaigns run by African American candidates in other Southern states. In some cases (Harvey Gant in North Carolina and Doug Wilder in Virginia) they significantly underperformed their last poll numbers when the votes were counted. So they say unless Ford shows a lead at least a couple of points beyond the margin for error (say a lead of at least 5-8%) he may not make it to victory.

While some see this as voters being unwilling to tell pollsters the truth (especially in phone surveys) about who they really plan to vote for, a Ford campaign representative says they don’t see this as a racial issue, that white candidates fall short of their poll numbers too sometimes on the Election Day. But, there is an unspoken political parlor game now being played in Tennessee. It asks this question: If Harold Ford, Jr. was a white candidate how far ahead would he be in this race? A lot of folks think it wouldn’t be nearly as close as it appears to be right now.

We’ll see come November 7.

THE REPUBS

What a difference an election cycle or two can make. A few days ago, Vice President Dick Cheney came to Ft. Campbell to honor the 101st Airborne just back home from Iraq.

Two years ago and especially four years ago, every major elected Republican official in the state would have crossed the Kentucky border to be there to welcome the VP and help him with the event.

But unless I missed it, I didn’t see any Tennessee GOP officials or candidates out in the cold soaking rain at Ft. Campbell when Cheney was there. Don’t misunderstand they will all say they still support the troops (and they probably do), but the Iraqi policies of Cheney and President Bush have become so unpopular they are seen as politically radioactive by many, so they politely stay as far away as they can.

Then there is the Republican-led Congress with its record low approval ratings. To protect himself and to try and get a little political leverage on the issue, Bob Corker has now has his own plan to “reform Washington”. It includes (interestingly enough) a ban on family members lobbying Congress, full disclosure of Congressional travel paid for by outside parties, and reform of the use of earmarks by Congressional leaders for pork projects in their states.

Not only does this new plan give Corker some talking points so he can pivot away from talking about the many specific problems facing Republican leaders (some of which he does address in his plan although not such issues as the page sex scandal). It also gives Corker a chance to re-enforce his attacks on Harold Ford concerning his use of trip junkets along with his ties to his Congressional lobbyist father. Good move politically

It apparently got Harold Ford’s attention. Showing up with his campaign bus, he tried to crash Corker’s Memphis news conference announcing his plan and (according to THE MEMPHIS COMMERCIAL APPEAL) change it into a parking lot debate over U.S. Iraqi policy. Corker was no doubt irritated and later a campaign spokesman said Ford was acting in juvenile, non-Senatorial fashion. Ford folks said the same thing about Corker being unwilling to do more debates.

This is the second time in recent days that someone with the Ford campaign has shown up right before or just after a Corker event to try and give their side of the story. That’s generally considered bad form and a bit rude even in politics.

Is Corker’s apparent campaign resurgence starting to annoy Harold Ford and his campaign?


THE MONEY

Financial disclosures on the national level are due to be filed and released just hours after this was being written, but already the U.S. Senate candidates have set a Tennessee record for spending.

We are well over $22 million and climbing like a rocket. Many observers have been saying $40 million would be the top out figure when all was said and done. Now, with outside groups like those who financed the “Swift Boat” attack ads two years getting into the act in Tennessee, that number could come closer to hitting $50 million.

Both sides continue to claim that national support for the other candidate is drying out or being withdrawn, but to the contrary, the Tennessee race continues to grow in national importance, especially to the future control of the Senate, so it appears doubtful much of anything will shut off the money machine before Election Day.

Mercy

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Tense Tennessee Senate Race

By David Brody
CBN News
CBNNews.com- Tennessee is as Bible Belt as it gets ,where love of God and country reign supreme. Speaking of love, meet Democrat Harold Ford Jr.

He likes to hug, and hug, and hug some more. But it's not all love.

The race between Ford and Republican Bob Corker has turned nasty, just ask Tennessee voters.
"You don't have to be negative, you don't have to disparage the other person," said Karen Tankersley, Nashville resident.

Corker thinks Ford is not as moderate as he claims. Ford says he is.

Ford said, "No Democrat is going to tell me what to do. No Republican is going to tell me what to do."

He even talks highly about Ronald Reagan. "I'm a Democrat, but I'm a big fan of Ronald Reagan" he said.

He likes to talk about his faith and the Bible.

"You ought to be concerned about others," Ford said. "The Bible instructs us to."

Ford came out with this commercial inside his church: "Here I learned the difference between right and wrong."
Corker won't judge the church commercial but is skeptical.
Corker said, "I know he's not portraying himself as he is on his commercials."
He questions his voting record too. "I do not think Harold Ford's voting record indicates that he is in step with voters of this state,"he said.

So what is Ford exactly? His lifetime American conservative union rating is 19. That's pretty low, but not as low as noted liberals like John Kerry and Ted Kennedy.

His liberal ACLU rating is middle of the road, 55 percent. Although he voted against banning partial birth abortion years ago, recently he's changed his mind and now favors a ban. He's also for a constitutional marriage amendment.

"My opponent criticizes me for politicizing religion and what can you do?" Ford said. "He calls me a liberal one day and says I'm too religious the next?"

Corker is pitching himself as the candidate who embodies the real values of Tennessee voters, someone who as mayor of Chattanooga solved real problems and will preserve traditions of faith and family.

But Corker may have a problem. Republican strategists here tell CBN News that conservatives aren't excited about him, especially on the pro-life issue. Although the National Right to Life organization has endorsed him, Tennessee Right for Life won't. CBN News asked him why.
"I don't know. You'll have to ask them," Corker said.

So we did. They point to 1994 when Corker ran as a pro-choice Senate candidate. And as a local politician, he didn't try to stop tax dollars from going to pay for abortions. Right now, the polls show a close race. If Democrats can win in this southern conservative state, it would be a big step toward winning back the Senate.

Corker said, "It truly can affect the direction of our country when the stakes are that high. Obviously things get a little tense."

Monday, October 16, 2006

GOP reallocates financial resources

By Adam Nagourney New York Times News Service
WASHINGTON —
Senior Republican leaders have concluded that Sen. Mike DeWine of Ohio, a pivotal state in this year’s fierce midterm election battles, is likely to be heading for defeat and are moving to reduce financial support for his race and divert party money to other embattled Republican senators, party officials said.
The decision to effectively write off DeWine’s seat, after a series of internal Republican polls showed him falling behind his Democratic challenger, is part of a fluid series of choices by top leaders in both parties as they set the strategic framework of the campaign’s final three weeks — signaling, by where they are spending television money and other resources, the Senate and House races where they believe they have the best chances of success.
Republicans now are pinning their hopes of holding the Senate on three states — Missouri, Tennessee and, with Ohio now off the table, probably Virginia — while trying to hold on to the House by pouring money into districts where Republicans have a strong historical or registration advantage, party officials said Sunday. Republicans also said they would run advertisements in New Jersey this week to test the vulnerability of Sen. Robert Menendez, one of the few Democrats who appear endangered.
Senior Republican strategists who had been briefed on decisions made during the party’s internal deliberations discussed the overall strategic thrusts but declined to provide specific dollar figures, saying that would give too much information to the Democrats. The decision involving De-Wine offers the most compelling evidence so far that Republicans are circling their wagons around a smaller group of races, effectively conceding some Senate and House seats with the goal of retaining at least a thin margin of control when the 110 th Congress is seated next January. Democrats need to win six seats to capture the Senate and 15 seats to win the House on Nov. 7.
Democratic strategists said Sunday that they were polling in search of other races with vulnerable Republicans, pointing to Rep. Richard W. Pombo of California as one incumbent they might take aim at. Republicans said they remained confident that the party’s considerable financial advantage would allow them to hold back a Democratic onslaught over the next three weeks, and they said they were preparing to spend significantly to bulk up any Republican who their polling over the next few days suggests might be faltering.
A critical question in the days ahead is the size of the Republican financial advantage for the final three weeks; the next filing reports are due Friday.

Growing up in the political spotlight, Ford learned the ropes as a youngster

By Halimah Abdullah
Contact
October 15, 2006
Harold Eugene Ford Jr. cut his first political ad at age 4, promising that his father would "lower cookie prices" if voters elected him to Congress.

He cut his political teeth at his father's side, tagging along on the campaign trail, drinking in every word, every moment.

These stories have become well-worn threads in the local political tapestry, and Ford, now 36, has gleaned a lot of mileage from these tales as he tries to become the first African-American to win popular election to the U.S. Senate from the South.

Ford is the plucky Democratic legislator from Memphis who rose above his family's embattled political history a decade ago to become one of his party's brightest stars, a darling of the national media and one of the most closely watched congressmen.

He helped secure $150 million for the World Runway at Memphis International Airport and federal funding for cancer research at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

His supporters say he works sometimes more than 20 hours a day for his roughly $160,000 congressional salary, is passionate about what he believes is right, has encyclopedic knowledge of domestic and foreign policy issues, and possesses his father's abiding concern for constituents back home.

His detractors, some of them in his own party, say Ford has a temper, is calculating in how he positions himself on issues and is using the district as a steppingstone to higher office.

Since the day he beat high school classmate and industrialist and banking empire descendant John 'Jamie' Rockefeller for president of the government club, Ford has been on the fast track, influencing public policy and rubbing elbows with powerful families and members of government.......

Memphians have Ford's ear, but he misses votes in House

By BILL THEOBALD
Tennessean Washington Bureau
Published: Sunday, 10/15/06

Harold Ford Jr. listened to his dad.

Harold Ford Sr. had three basic rules for representing his Memphis-based U.S. House district, said Mark Schuermann, former aide to father and son.

"Take care of the people. Take care of the people. Take care of the people," recalled Schuermann.

Junior has followed that simple prescription.

His intense focus on taking care of his own constituents and people across the state has earned the Democrat widespread praise — even from people who disagree with some of his positions and votes.

He's also snagged millions in federal funding for local projects since his 1996 election — despite being in the minority party his entire tenure. The project most often cited is the $150 million runway, opened in 2000, that allows Memphis-based FedEx to fly nonstop to Asia.

At the same time, Ford, 36, has a modest legislative record, spends scant time at committee hearings, and has missed more House votes than many of his colleagues.

Always to the right of many of his Democratic colleagues, Ford's votes have become progressively more conservative. Still, he often has the most liberal voting record among the state's nine House members, including its four other Democrats.

"My job is to represent the people of the 9th District," Ford wrote in an e-mail when asked about his priorities. "My first and only priority is to them."

Money and meetings
Ford's reach-out-and-touch-someone approach also serves him well in dealing with individual constituents. Marcus Pohlmann, political science professor at Rhodes College in Memphis, said a local physician he knows, a Republican, was thinking of voting for Ford after receiving a personal letter from the congressman congratulating him on a flattering article in the local media.

Even the Republican Party chairman in Shelby County acknowledges Ford's constituent service work. But Bill Giannini calls the efforts "skin deep" and said Ford should be among those held responsible for the district's economic decline.

Projects that have benefited from Ford's success in winning money from Congress include juvenile cancer research at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and the transfer of the University of Memphis Law School to the old Customs House and Post Office downtown.

A Gannett News Service analysis of this year's pending appropriations bills shows Ford's district is tabbed for 19 targeted projects totaling $58.9 million. That's the second-highest number of projects and the third-highest dollar total among the state's nine congressional districts.

Ford has made less of a mark authoring legislation. He has never been the primary sponsor of a bill that has become law. He notes that asserting authority over significant legislation is difficult for someone in the minority party.

Ford has co-sponsored 79 bills that have become law during his decade in the House, according to a review of congressional records. But many of those have been largely ceremonial, such as a bill passed in September to require minting of a coin to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth.

Ford said he had an "instrumental role" in the No Child Left Behind education reform legislation, the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law and the Sarbanes-Oxley legislation passed in the wake of accounting scandals at Enron and other companies.

According to congressional records, however, Ford did not attend two of the three Financial Services Committee hearings on the accounting bill. He asked two questions at the one hearing he did attend, offered no amendments during the committee markup of the bill, and missed nine of the 13 recorded votes on committee amendments.

Ford attended the three education committee hearings on the No Child Left Behind legislation, records show. But he asked no questions and offered only one amendment, which was withdrawn.

Overall, Ford has been a frequent no-show at hearings before the Financial Services Committee, his main committee assignment, and his two subcommittees.

From 2001 to 2005, Ford was not listed as present at 75 percent of the hearings — 119 of 158 — before the committee and the two subcommittees, according to transcripts of the hearings. Between 2001 and 2006, he was listed as participating in 24 of 30 recorded votes, or 80 percent, taken during the committee's business meetings.

In e-mailed responses to questions about his legislative record, Ford cited his high committee voting percentage. He wrote that he attends hearings when Congress is in session but "when the choice was between being home when Congress was out of session and attending committee hearings, I chose to be home working in my district or around my state."

But many of the Financial Services Committee hearings he missed occurred while Congress was in session, according to records.

Ford also has missed more votes on the House floor than many of his colleagues. The congressman missed 6.51 percent of votes from 1995 to 2005, ranking him 48th in the percentage of missed votes among the 433 House members in office at the end of 2005, according to research by Congressional Observer Publications.

In 2006, Ford has missed 137 out of 516 votes, or 26.5 percent. Through August, he ranked third in the percentage of missed votes among all House members. Some of the missed votes this year have been on minor matters, such as a February vote on a resolution lauding the contribution of the USO to the morale of the country's servicemen and servicewomen.

But on the evening of Friday, Sept. 29, the last day before Congress recessed for the election, Ford missed six votes that included final passage of funding bills for homeland security, national defense and legislation to improve port security. Ford voted for the bills when they first passed the House and the final bills — negotiated compromises between House and Senate versions — passed easily.

That night, Ford was attending a fundraiser in Beverly Hills, Calif., that featured heavy hitters from the entertainment industry.

"My 92 percent is an 'A' by most standards," Ford wrote of his voting percentage, adding that he had acknowledged when he announced his Senate run that he would have to miss some votes.

Voting in the middle
Ford's celebrity and association with Hollywood have been used by the Corker campaign to label him an extreme liberal. But his voting record is moderate.

According to the respected National Journal congressional rankings, Ford's voting record has become steadily more conservative since he entered the House. In his first year, Ford was more liberal than about 71 percent of all House members and his ranking stayed in the low- to mid-70s in those early years. Over the past few years, Ford's liberal score has dropped, hitting an all-time low of 58.3 percent in 2005.

While more conservative than most Democrats, Ford has been the most or nearly the most liberal member of the Tennessee House delegation. Those who label Ford a liberal point to his votes against a ban on partial-birth abortion and against the Central America Free Trade Agreement. But Ford also has voted for constitutional amendments outlawing gay marriage and flag burning, for a crackdown on illegal immigration, and in favor of a ban on taking minors across state lines to obtain an abortion.

This combination leaves Ford with voter ratings that end up mostly in the middle nationwide, but still to the left of the Tennessee delegation. Ford earned a 67 percent approval score from the U.S. Chamber based on his 2005 votes, the second lowest in the delegation, and a 47 percent rating from the American Civil Liberties Union for 2005, the second-highest in the delegation. •

For the Senate: Harold Ford

There are many good reasons to support Representative Harold Ford’s election to the U.S. Senate. His deep congressional experience and thoughtful positions on a range of vital issues — the Iraq war, pay-as-you-go government and a balanced budget, affordable health care and energy independence, for example — confirm his qualifications. His conviction, keen intellect and leadership qualities also suggest his capacity to become a notable, persuasive Senate leader who would capably represent the interests of Tennesseans, and all Americans. There is also an overarching issue that argues for Rep. Ford’s election to the Senate: America’s need for both a change in direction, and a change in the power structure in at least one of the chambers of Congress.

The power of both the executive and legislative branches of the federal government — the White House and both chambers of Congress — are now concentrated solely in the hands of the Republican party. This concentration of power has deprived America of its quintessential checks and balances, and the bipartisanship, that is sorely needed to rein in the excesses of government. Ordinary Republicans themselves should not be happy about this. Washington’s direction under the ruling Republican regime makes that abundantly clear.

President Bush and the compliant Republican leadership in charge of the House and the Senate have passed tax cuts that overwhelmingly favor the very wealthiest Americans and that have resulted in massive, record budget deficits and cumulative debt. The national debt will nearly have doubled, to more than $10 trillion, during George Bush’s presidency by the time he leaves office. This onerous burden of debt is already hindering our nation’s ability to support basic services, infrastructure and programs on which all citizens rely. And it will long haunt our children’s future.

Congress’ complicity and failure of oversight also have produced a failed war policy, reckless environmental exploitation, unaffordable health care trends, a soaring record of lobbyist-induced profiteering, and unchecked corporate greed (think Big Oil, gratuitous corporate tax cuts and intrusions on federal lands, and a Medicare drug bill written mostly to enrich pharmaceutical companies and insurers).

Lastly, bipartisanship has languished, and with it the ability of Congress to steer a reasoned middle direction, because Republicans hold all the levers of power and need make no compromises anywhere — with Democrats, governors or any other national force. There is simply no check on their power. And as the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandals and former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s control of the lobbyist/legislative food chain confirm, that power has produced unchecked corruption, along with lobbyists’ record campaign funding to keep this symbiotic power structure entrenched.

Election of Harold Ford, along with the election of a few other Democrats to the Senate and House, would help check the Republican majority’s excesses. Mr. Ford, as well, would bring valuable leadership skills and legislative experience to the Senate that would be constructive by any standard. His centrist legislative record is also one that most Tennesseans would support. He leans to the right on some issues (for gun rights, opposed to gay marriage) that typically lure conservative Republicans. But he supports the core values (fiscal conservatism, payas-you-go tax breaks, environmental stewardship, affordable health care, aid for education, immigration reform and protection of Social Security and Medicare) that ordinary citizens of all political stripes embrace.

Rep. Ford also offers innovative solutions that would address some of the country’s more intractable issues. On education, for example, he favors significant aid for early education initiatives to help close the achievement gap. And to boost college enrollment as well as the nation’s economic competitiveness and civic interests, he would provide college tuition help for every student who would commit to a national service program upon graduation. He favors a two-year budget cycle in Washington, aggressive policies to reverse the nation’s sinking savings rate (the lowest in the industrial world), and federal support for war-time National Guard service to relieve stress on states and employers from the multiple rotation of Guard units in Afghanistan and Iraq.

His measured approach on the Iraq war would allow regional autonomy to the Shia, Kurds and Sunnis. He concedes that would not overcome the administration’s earlier strategic failures to provide adequate troops and security, but he argues that decentralization would provide Iraqis the sectarian space from which to develop their future on their own terms.

Rep. Ford’s most appealing attributes are his candor and his sensible, honest practicality. He sees an administration that has bloated the size of government, that traded cuts in core services for tax cuts for the wealthy elite, and that has recklessly waged a war on a credit-card philosophy — all without asking commensurate sacrifice by its citizens, or caring how its conduct undermines our future and national security in such myriad ways.

Like most citizens, Rep. Ford knows that’s neither right, nor sustainable. He seeks election to change direction. This page endorses his candidacy, and strongly urges his election.

Endorsement: Ford for U.S. Senate

The Tennessean today strongly endorses U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Jr. for the United States Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Bill Frist.

Ford, the Democratic nominee, has served 10 years in the House, representing the 9th District of Memphis. But he is ready to represent the entire state, and it could not be at a more pivotal time. Ford offers the potential of bringing new energy and leadership to the Senate, but he also represents the sort of change the nation needs in terms of which party will hold the majority there. Tennessee has emerged as a key state in the national picture. By electing Ford, Tennesseans have an opportunity to help set the country on a positive new course.

Ford appears willing to stand up to the tired policies of the Bush administration. Congress has done the bidding of the White House for far too long. With Republican majorities in the House and Senate, Congress has been too accommodating to the wishes of the president, who has insisted on having his way. Ford carries an independent spirit that would not only represent a change in the Senate but would be in step with the values of Tennessee voters.

Ford has demonstrated a willingness to look at different ways of handling the war in Iraq, which much of Congress has been too timid to do. He has shown a commitment to balancing the nation's budget, which has gone haywire in Republican hands. He has also demonstrated new ways of thinking in ensuring the financial future of Americans, making sure every person has access to health care and in developing alternative fuels.

Ford's opponent is Republican nominee Bob Corker, former mayor of Chattanooga. Corker has closely aligned himself in the campaign with President Bush, who has extremely frayed coattails, and it does not stand the candidate well. Corker is an honorable man with a record of accomplishment, but there is little reason for voters to believe a vote for Corker would do anything other than echo too many of the failures that are currently the norm in Washington.
Corker has also run a campaign that has fallen into disarray. Ford has run an impressive, well-organized campaign with focus. It is clear that the national Republican Party is worried about what is happening in Tennessee. Republicans obviously underestimated Ford. They have also underestimated the ability of voters across this state to assess Ford's strengths on their own. That said, it should be noted that the Senate campaign, like so many others, has too often been reduced to frivolous 30-second television ads that do not serve the process well.

Tennesseans have an opportunity in this election to make a statement to the nation. The state should seize that opportunity. To do so, it requires a candidate who is willing to take new directions, stand up to the White House and represent Tennessee with a strong sense of duty. Tennesseans have that candidate in Harold Ford Jr.

Senate race gets world coverage

By Ashley Rowland Staff Writer
Tired of seeing another commercial for U.S. Senate nominees Harold Ford Jr. or Bob Corker while you watch football or your favorite sitcom? If it seems like you can’t get away from this race, well, you probably can’t. Tennessee’s neck-and-neck Senate race has drawn national and international attention with coverage from major television networks, radio stations and newspapers, including The New York Times, which featured a video clip from a recent debate on its Web site Friday. The Washington Post, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, Fox News, National Public Radio, the Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun and others have featured the contest. Even journalists from Japan and France are following the race.

Experts said the contest between former Chattanooga Mayor Corker, a Republican, and U.S. Rep. Ford, a Democrat from Memphis, is getting so much publicity because it is among seven or eight races nationwide that could determine which party controls the Senate. Of those, two or three — including the race in Tennessee — seem to have no clear front-runner. "I don’t think there’s any doubt that this is one of the most important, most watched Senate races in the country," said Todd Womack, spokesman for Mr. Corker’s campaign. According to a Mason-Dixon poll conducted in late September, the two candidates are in a statistical dead heat, with Rep. Ford ahead of Mr. Corker 43 percent to 42 percent. A similar poll in July showed Mr. Corker with a 13-point lead.

Jennifer Duffy, an editor and political analyst for the Cook Political Report, an independent newsletter covering American politics, said the Tennessee race is being watched because it is "part of the fire wall between a Republican and Democratic majority." Ms. Duffy said the Senate races in Tennessee, Missouri, Ohio and New Jersey now are getting the most media attention. But the attention that members of the media give to any one race ebbs and flows, as in a Pennsylvania race in which high-ranking Republican Sen. Rick Santorum trails his challenger, she said. Reporters "are kind of bored with it, so they’ve moved on," she said.

Observers said part of what makes Tennessee’s race interesting is that Rep. Ford, if elected, would become only the fourth black elected by popular vote to the Senate. "He would not just be a senator from Tennessee. He would take on a role as a national political figure," Bruce Oppenheimer, a Vanderbilt University political science professor, said. That fact, plus Rep. Ford’s manner with voters, has set him apart, Dr. Oppenheimer said.

"He has sort of a presence when he walks into the room," Dr. Oppenheimer said. "He’s not a candidate people shake hands with. They go up and hug him." Meanwhile, he said Mr. Corker is running a more traditional campaign. "Ford seems to have a comfort level with doing this that Corker doesn’t, although this is clearly not the first time Corker has run for office," Dr. Oppenheimer said.

E-mail Ashley Rowland at arowland@timesfreepress.com

Candidates ‘star’ in clips on YouTube

By Andy Sher Nashville Bureau
NASHVILLE —
Tennessee’s two U.S. Senate nominees are getting the star treatment these days on video-sharing Web sites such as YouTube and MySpace videos. But the roles Republican Bob Corker and Democrat Harold Ford Jr. find themselves in often are unflattering, and a few portray them as villains. "I see this as the wave of the future," said Carol Darr, director of George Washington University’s Institute for Politics. "I see this as a preview of coming attractions for 2008."

An example of YouTube offerings is a four-second video clip from Tuesday’s Senate debate in Chattanooga. It features Mr. Corker, a former Chattanooga mayor, glancing at his watch as an audience member begins to ask him a question. Another replays a 2001 CNN interview with U.S. Rep. Ford. Rep. Ford, a law school graduate who failed his bar exam, said then-U.S. Rep. Gary Condit’s behavior certainly was odd, but Rep. Ford added that, "as a lawyer, I know it could mean absolutely nothing."

Dr. Darr said the candidates in Tennessee and nationwide had better get used to having gaffes and worse displayed, because many people now have the technology to make their own inexpensive political videos and upload them onto the Internet. "You’re going to start seeing candidates and other political actors more, warts and all," she said. Campaigns and political committees are posting video clips, as well, and there are some adlike clips being posted anonymously.

One is a professional-looking attack on Rep. Ford that highlights the congressman’s father, former U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Sr., D-Tenn., who once was indicted and acquitted on bank fraud charges. The video clip features Rep. Ford Jr. defending his father during Tuesday night’s debate in Chattanooga, then it alternates that clip with years-old footage of his father attacking then-U.S. Attorney Ed Bryant with regard to the bank fraud charges. "My father’s too good of a person," Rep. Ford says, while the next sequence shows an angry Ford Sr. shouting at cameras, "I’m not paying any attention to Ed Bryant."

The video clip cites current and past legal problems of various Ford family members who have served in public office. It was posted by someone calling himself or herself "Tennessee-Truth." Contacted Thursday by e-mail, "TennesseeTruth" declined to disclose his identify. "I appreciate your interest, but I am not interested in getting out in the public," the "TennesseeTruth" e-mail stated. "I just enjoy politics ... stay tuned, more to come."

Later on Thursday, Rep. Ford’s brother, 9 th Congressional District candidate Jake Ford, admitted he had been arrested several times, including for assault and DUI. The Ford campaign had no immediate response. Corker campaign spokesman Todd Womack said the Corker campaign did not post the video clip to YouTube. "I think as voters across the state increasingly come to understand the inter-workings of the (Ford political machine) and how they gamed the system to their benefit, there will be undoubtedly even more video showing up on places like You-Tube addressing that reality," Mr. Womack said.

Meanwhile, an anti-Corker Batman spoof on YouTube called "The Corker Strikes Again" features Mr. Corker as a villainous Joker-like cartoon character. The video goes after Mr. Corker over the city’s approval, while he was Chattanooga’s mayor, of a road over a conservation easement leading to land Mr. Corker previously sold to Wal-Mart. It also references problems with dropped 911 calls during Mr. Corker’s tenure as mayor. "In the quiet town of Chattanooga, a villain is trying to destroy a protected nature reserve," an announcer says. "Ha, ha, ha. It’s the Corker. Quick someone call the mayor; it’s his job to protect this land. But the Corker is the mayor!"

"Call 911," the announcer says. "I’m trying," someone replies. "But no one is answering." The ad was posted on You-Tube by Moderate True View. The ad’s co-creator, Hector, a 28-year-old Nashville-based video producer, agreed to speak on the condition that only his first name was used.

Hector said he and his brother formed Moderate True View about a month ago, and he has created several video clips and uploaded them to YouTube. He said he is a Democrat who is not employed by the Ford campaign. Mr. Womack said political campaigns "are rough and tumble, and certainly people weigh in with their opinions."

E-mail Andy Sher at asher@timesfreepress.com

Corker, Ford agree: Ad goes too far

By Tom Humphrey
Knoxville News Sentinel
October 14, 2006
NASHVILLE --
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Bob Corker joined Democratic candidate Harold Ford Jr.'s campaign Friday in denouncing as "reprehensible" a radio commercial attacking Ford and sponsored by a group calling itself "Tennesseans for Truth."

Corker's campaign learned of the ad being aired on a radio station in Gallatin, which is northeast of Nashville, after being contacted by Ford's campaign on Friday, said Corker spokesman Todd Womack.

Michael Powell, senior adviser to the Ford campaign, said it has aired only on WHIN. He called the ad "racist." Womack declined to use that word.

After listening to the ad, Corker campaign manager Tom Ingram promptly sent a letter to the station, asking that the "offensive, reprehensible advertisement" be taken off the air immediately.

Mike Marshall, a sports commentator fielding calls at WHIN Friday night, said it is "my understanding" that the ad had been pulled. He said that, to the best of his knowledge, it only aired two times.

The ad is an attack on Ford and his "Washington liberal lobbyist" father, former congressman Harold Ford Sr.

"His daddy handed him his seat in Congress and his seat in the Congressional Black Caucus, an all-black group of congressmen who represent the interests of black people above all others," the narrator says.......

Much hangs in balance in this Nov. 7 election

EDITORIAL

The importance of the U.S. Senate race in Tennessee is immense. It could determine which party controls the chamber, thereby controlling the national agenda for the next two years.

The race between Republican Bob Corker, a former Chattanooga mayor and businessman, and Harold Ford Jr., who currently represents the 9th District in Congress, are locked in a tight match. Recent polls indicate the battle to succeed Sen. Bill Frist is too close to call.

Every vote carries added weight in such contests.The race for the 4th Congressional District seat is also crucial. Nationally, polls indicate the battle for control of the lower house could also be up for grabs.

Democratic Rep. Lincoln Davis faces a challenge from Fairfield Glade resident Kenneth Martin. With the scandal surrounding ex-Rep. Mark Foley, some say the Democrats could take control of the House.

Gov. Phil Bredesen is seeking a second term in office. He is opposed by Republican State Sen. Jim Bryson. The winner will set the course for the state during the next four years.

Two other key races will be on the ballot for most Maury County residents. The battle for the 64th District seat in the state House of Representatives pits two old rivals against each other — GOP Rep. Tom DuBois again faces Guy Z. Derryberry.

Statewide, Republicans are pushing to win control of the house for the first time in nearly 40 years. In the battle for the 13th Senate District seat, GOP Sen. Bill Ketron faces off against Spring Hill resident and former Maury County School Board Member Vince Springer. The Republicans currently control the upper chamber, but the Democrats hope to regain the upper hand.With that much at stake, it is vital that those who have registered to vote cast a ballot in the General Election.

Early voting begins Oct. 18 at the Maury County Election Commission at 1207 Tradewinds Drive.Voters can cast their ballots from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. and on Saturday from 8 a.m.-noon. There will be extended voting hours from 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Oct. 30-Nov. 2. Early voting ends Nov. 2.Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 7, and voters must cast their ballots at their assigned precincts. The polls will be open from 8 a.m.-7 p.m.

There is a lot at stake. Voting is more than just a right. It is also an obligation, duty and responsibility. Make the most of your right to vote. Go to the polls, cast a ballot and have a say in your future.

Bring Zach Home

(Saturday,10/14/2006 © Chattanoogan.com)
Congressman Harold Ford Jr. said Thursday night at the annual Estes Kefauver Dinner in Chattanooga that "If Democrats are serious about taking back the U.S. Senate and the country they need to quit talking about how bad things are under the Republicans and start explaining how they're going to make it better."

We must, all of us, Democrats and Republicans alike, work relentlessly in these final weeks for every Democratic candidate in this election to show the current "leadership" that they have failed us, and we are firing them.

Republicans: the Republicans in office have used you and abused your loyalty and your trust. Democrats: We as citizens need to do our part to proactively envision America's and Tennessee's future. We need to work for it, and earn it.

We must, all of us, earn the future we want for ourselves, our children and our grandchildren, because whatever we do or choose, in a moment of apathy, not to do we will deserve the outcome.

We must work tirelessly in these few final weeks to hold our politicians accountable.
I, for one, am downtown at the Democratic headquarters every day, far from home devoting my time to help Brent Benedict win the Third District in Congress because he's a good man who knows how to get things done.

I found out from www.issues2000.org that Zach Wamp seems to know only how to do harm, and he's been busy doing it, propped up far too long by people with business interests who'll put a handshake before their own family's and community's health, well-being and the security of their future.

Wamp has a League of Conservation Voters approval rating of 5% for all his years' voting record as congressman, a history of polluting our air and waterways, destroying our forests, and refusing to put into effect vehicle mileage standards that would slow global warming. He's rated 7% by the ACLU because of his abysmal civil liberties record. Wamp has an AFL-CIO approval rating of 7%. Unlike Benedict, Wamp knows and cares nothing about the average working family. Wamp has an Alliance of Retired Americans approval rating of 20%. He doesn't support a safe, reliable Social Security system, Medicare or Medicaid. He's similarly rated 33% by APHA, the American Public Health Association. Are we going to continue to let this man divert our tax dollars from these valuable programs, and put our tax dollars instead to work for his big oil buddies?

Now, if your child came home from school with test scores like these, you'd probably ground that child and make some big changes around the house. It's time we do the same. We need to make some changes in the House. Let's bring Zach back. Do everything you can to help Brent Benedict send him home to sit in his corner and think about what he's done.

Liev Aleo Black
Asheville, N.C.
liev@gmail.com

Ford says his focus is on middle ground, making a difference in U.S. Senate

Built for the road ahead?
By TOM HUMPHREY, tomhumphrey3@aol.com October 15, 2006


The shift of subjects is seamless for Harold Eugene Ford Jr. in moving from the podium at a Veterans of Foreign Wars convention to the chair of a neighborhood barbershop.
At the VFW gathering in a hotel overlooking the state Capitol, many in the audience appear twice the 36-year-old congressman's age.

He begins the speech on Iraq and continues with an animated ramble through topics ranging from family and religion to politics and gas prices. The 200 or so veterans, initially somewhat reserved, are soon laughing at some lines and applauding others.

Subsequent interviews indicate that he may have won a vote or two from fellows such as Ken Brooks of Kingsport, who characterizes himself as an independent "Demo-Republi-Crat" transformed from undecided to leaning to Ford.

George Rasberry of Trenton, identifying himself as a Republican, says the speech was interesting, "but I'm not converted."

At Miles Barber Shop, most of the dozen or so customers and hair-cutters on hand are younger than Ford.

The conversation is mostly about football and the merits of various players -- except for a couple of customers voicing support for Ford in his current campaign to become Tennessee's next U.S. senator. If he pulls that off, Ford will also be the first black U.S. senator elected in the South since Reconstruction.

On the barbershop wall is a framed certificate declaring that the vacationing proprietor, Nathaniel Miles, is "honorary chairman" of the Business Advisory Committee in Tennessee for the National Republican Congressional Committee.

On a table with the magazines is one of those 6-inch-tall elephant statues, painted with the stars and stripes of the American flag, that are sold at GOP fund-raisers.

In the window are "Ford for Senate" campaign signs. And a barber, who provides Ford with a hair trim of debatable need, says "Mr. Miles" backs Democrat Ford despite general Republican tendencies.

Ford, indeed, appears to have strong support in Nashville's Jefferson Street neighborhood. At a nearby gas station, there are "Fed up when you fill up?" signs -- a phrase Ford uses in a television commercial on energy policy and high gas prices.

People spot him on the street and yell a greeting. He stops to speak with each, to the consternation of aides trying to keep him on schedule. They include contrasting folks.

There is, for example, a Nashville city councilwoman with grandchildren in tow who insists on an impromptu photo of the youngsters with Ford. And there is a large, colorfully dressed woman who says she once had a job and a bright future, but "then I became a drunk."

"You pray for me and I'll pray for you," she says. Ford nods.

'Somewhere in between'
Contrasts seem almost a theme around Ford, often coupled with efforts on his part to find some middle ground and, as he puts it, "bring people together."

A Memphis native, Ford was fresh out of law school in 1996 when elected at 26 to succeed his father in the U.S. House of Representatives. He still has not passed the bar exam to officially become a lawyer.

In the 10 years since his initial election, he has become a member of the "Blue Dog Caucus" of conservative Democrats and a regular on national television talk shows, and he has gained other prominence -- running unsuccessfully, for instance, against Nancy Pelosi for the position of House minority leader.

Ford says he has decided to give up the safe seat because "we pass just about anything the Republicans want to pass in the House," while procedural rules and tradition in the Senate "forces compromise" and make it the body where "the biggest questions we have to answer in this country are going to be decided."

He wants to be in on the making of those decisions, Ford says, "not so much as a matter of moving up, but of making a difference." And he indicates that the notion of making a difference is ingrained.

"I cannot remember a time when I did not want to be in public service," he says.
Ford says he is often at odds with more liberal members of his own party, backing, for example, public display of the Ten Commandments. He says Democrats need to change.

"I believe the party has to be, well, not more moderate or centrist, but more rational and results-oriented in how we approach things," he says.

In the speech to veterans, Ford began on the subject of war in Iraq.

"I've been to Iraq five times, and each time I've been encouraged," he said, adding praise for the troops while questioning opposing sides in a policy debate over whether to get out of the strife-torn country or stay on indefinitely.

"The answer's got to be somewhere in between," he said.

The first laughs from the veterans came when he told them about his family, starting with the marriage of a contrasting couple -- his Irish paternal grandmother to his grandfather, "a native American who was black."

"They got to know each other really well. They had 15 kids," Ford says, adding that he now has 91 first cousins.

Family matters
One of his grandparents' 15 kids is his uncle, former state Sen. John Ford, D-Memphis, now awaiting trial on bribery charges.

His own father was charged -- and acquitted by a jury -- on bank fraud charges. An aunt, Ophelia, was elected to the state Senate, then ousted from the seat amid contentions that her election was tainted by illegal voting.

The candidate himself has never been implicated in any impropriety. But Republican activists assert that the family taint assures he cannot be elected.

One conservative Nashville radio talk show host, as a perhaps extreme example, questioned on air whether Ford has "a genetic predisposition to lie, cheat and steal."

Asked about this, Ford said he was surprised and saddened, then quoted a verse from the Bible -- Ephesians Chapter 6, verse 12, which speaks of fighting against "spiritual wickedness."

"I will pray for him," he said of the talk show host.

As for his family, Ford has repeatedly said he loves members such as Uncle John, even while disapproving of some behavior.

"I've never once had to vote on my family," he said, contending that family member behavior is irrelevant to his own qualifications.

Republican critics generally "can't find anything (issues) to attack me on, so they make personal attacks," he says. "I think the voters are going to reject that."

At the same time, Ford says he is an admirer of many Republicans, ranging from former Sen. Howard Baker to Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower, and friends with many others.

Indeed, when Sen. John Ensign, R-Nevada, held a news conference recently to endorse Bryant's Senate campaign, he declared, "I like Harold Ford personally," though "I just don't think he needs to be in the Senate."

Ford says he often played basketball with Ensign when the Nevadan was in the House and the two became "good buddies." He gets along well with many people holding differing political opinions, Ford says.

A bachelor, Ford says he "almost got married once" and, given his devotion to work and campaigning, "could have made a young lady's life very hard." Eventually, he says, he will marry because "I want a family."

'Fat free' approach
In his speech to the VFW, Ford recalled learning religion "the old-fashioned way" -- being forced to go to church -- and lectures from his maternal grandmother against youthful misbehavior, which she deemed "mannish" for boys and "fast" for girls.

Using gestures for emphasis, he lamented "inertia" in Washington because of partisan bickering, the borrowing of money from China that raises the national debt, and dependence on foreign oil that "subsidizes our enemies" in the war on terror.

"I'm not that bright, but I know you can't win a war if you're paying your enemy," he says. "If we can make chocolate fat free, we can make coal burn clean."

The biggest applause from the veterans came when he declared that there are really two ways to measure the decency of a society -- "the way we treat the least among us" and "the way we treat those who sacrifice for the rest of us." He pledged to push for improved veterans benefits.
Afterward, a burly, gray-bearded man walked up to Ford, grabbed his hand and said, "I'm a Vietnam veteran. Do you really mean what you said?"

"I promise I do," Ford replied. "Give me a chance, and you won't regret it."

The man nodded, then walked away.

On the war, some agreement

Contenders reflect a growing unease
By Richard Locker, Contact
October 16, 2006

NASHVILLE -- Senate candidates Bob Corker and Harold Ford Jr. agree that the U.S. should not pull its troops out of Iraq immediately and on some other aspects of the broader war against terrorism.

But they disagree on President Bush's conduct of the war, on whether the invasion of Iraq was justified and on the best strategy for the future of Iraq.

In their campaign ads and on the stump, the candidates have blasted each other over immigration and national security issues, but war issues have played out mostly in their two face-to-face debates.

Ford, the Memphis Democratic congressman, voted for the 2003 congressional resolution authorizing the president to invade Iraq -- after it was revised to urge Bush to seek international backing and aid. Ford said at the time that his vote was based on intelligence reports indicating Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

Even then he was reluctant. "Many experts believe that (Saddam) Hussein's military might crumble quickly but remnants of his army, as well as independent ethnic militias, could mount major attacks on U.S. occupation forces for many years," Ford said just after the vote.

Now, 31/2 years later, Ford says, "Clearly, the intelligence was flawed. Had I known then what I know now, I would have voted no," he wrote in response to The Commercial Appeal questionnaire on issues in the race.

"The president and his team have pursued a flawed strategy. Thankfully, America has the best and bravest warfighters in the world. Their brilliance has made up for an inept and unfortunate approach in Iraq."

Corker, the former mayor of Chattanooga, agreed that "given his history of using chemical weapons and the intelligence information we had at that time, it was reasonable for the United States to conclude that Saddam Hussein might either use or sell weapons of mass destruction to our enemies. After 9/11, such risks were too serious to accept." ......

Ford and Corker on eight big issues

October 15, 2006

Harold Ford Jr.
Iraq: Supports the president's resolve to win, but thinks a new direction is needed. Favors a three-state solution that partitions the Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds into three states.

Taxes and tax cuts: Supports middle-class tax cuts, cuts in the capital gains tax, the estate tax and small business taxes.

Budget and fiscal policy: Says he has never voted for a budget that wasn't balanced, and he strongly supports a constitutional amendment to balance the budget.

Environment: Supports reducing dependence on foreign oil by investing in alternative and renewable energies and reducing air emissions to begin to solve the global warming problem.

Arctic drilling: Would support drilling in Arctic wildlife area if the U.S. raises the miles-per-gallon performance on new vehicles.

Abortion: Supports Roe vs. Wade as the settled law of the land, but believes Americas should do everything possible to reduce abortion, including a bill to reduce abortions by 95 percent. Supports parental consent and restrictions on late-term abortion.

Gay marriage: Is opposed to gay marriage and supports a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

Energy: Supports investing in renewal and alternative energy sources, particularly using Tennessee agricultural products to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

Bob Corker
Iraq:
Believes the United States needs to get the job done so troops can come home. Says the administration should listen to the commanders on the ground and make sure they have the tools to succeed. Opposes a timetable for withdrawal, but believes the U.S. should make sure the Iraqi government can secure itself.

Taxes and tax cuts: As a person who worked as a construction laborer and started a business with $8,000, says families should keep more of what they earn. Supports making permanent the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts passed by Congress.

Budget and fiscal policy: Cites runaway spending in Washington and supports a constitutional amendment to require Congress to balance the budget, give the president line-item veto power and establish a new commission to review all government programs, identifying waste and duplication.

Environment: Supports cleaner energy sources, including coal gasification, and using tax incentives and federal research grants to encourage the development, production and distribution of alternative fuels and more fuel-efficient vehicles.

Arctic drilling: Supports environmentally responsible production of oil and natural gas in northern Alaska and the outer continental shelf.

Abortion: Opposes abortion and would support the confirmation of conservative judges. He supports parental consent requirements, a ban on partial birth abortion and a ban on taxpayer funding of abortion.

Gay marriage: Supports a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

Energy: Supports reducing dependence on foreign sources of energy, including oil. This means increasing efficiency, developing more diverse power sources, including clean coal technology and more research for the next generation of nuclear power, and using alternative fuels, like ethanol and bio-diesel.

Copyright 2006, KnoxNews. All Rights Reserved.

Senate race could change balance of political power

Tennessee a prize
By REBECCA FERRAR, ferrarr@knews.com
October 15, 2006

The U.S. Senate race pits a millionaire businessman and former Chattanooga mayor against a charismatic black Memphis congressman in a race that has the two running neck and neck.
In fact, many political pundits say it's too close to call.

That leaves the door wide open for miscues to influence the campaign.

For the Democrats, U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Jr. could be the key to retaking the majority of the Senate. The Democrats need six seats to wrest control and many are counting on Ford to win that sixth seat.

For the GOP, they need a Bob Corker win to hang onto the Tennessee seat being vacated by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist -- and to maintain the GOP's current Senate majority.

Both Ford and Corker are running substantial campaigns -- though with very negative ads on television. The national parties are involved in running ads and spending resources.

Those expenditures could make this the most expensive Senate race ever in Tennessee.

Both have run ads about protecting the borders from illegal immigration. And both have talked tough on national security and defense.

Even so, Ford and Corker couldn't be more different.

Ford, 36, is a single man from a controversial and powerful Memphis political family who was elected to his father's former congressional seat at 26.

Corker, 54, is a self-made millionaire who ran his own construction business until he became mayor, is married and has two children.

Corker survived a brutal threeway GOP primary. Ford coasted through the primary with only minimal opposition, but still ran television ads.

Ford is not your conventional black candidate. He voted for the war in Iraq, opposes same-sex marriage, says the Ten Commandments should be posted in courtrooms around the state, would cut the estate tax, favors prayer in schools and backs a ban on late-term abortions.

Ford stresses national security -- including staying the course in Iraq by dividing up the nation into three provinces for ethic groups until the Iraqis have control of their nation -- as well as improved health care and energy independence.

Still, Corker, 54, paints himself as the conservative in the race -- and Ford as the liberal.
Corker believes "it would be immoral to leave Iraq until the Iraqis can defend themselves and that it's important to listen to the commanders on the ground as it relates to what is needed," said Corker campaign manager Ben Mitchell.

The former mayor also opposes same-sex marriage, favors prayer in schools and opposes abortion.

Corker is stressing competitiveness by creating good-paying jobs, getting the federal deficit under control by reducing spending and keeping taxes low, ensuring that U.S. citizens are safe and secure and preserving the traditions of faith and family.

Both men have controversies surrounding their campaigns. For Ford, his father was indicted for federal bank fraud and acquitted in 1993. The day after Ford Jr. announced his candidacy, his uncle, former state Sen. John Ford, was indicted for bribery.

On the Corker side, he was involved in a land deal in which he made $4.7 million from the sale of a piece of his property to allow a road to be built on a conservation easement so a Wal-Mart could go up. Corker claims he knew nothing of the removal of the easement and the sale because all his financial holdings were in a blind trust.

But records obtained under the state Public Records Act show top Corker aides discussed the easement restrictions during the mayor's time in office.

Corker insists he did nothing wrong and did not use his influence on the project.

"The choice between voters in this election is between Bob Corker, a conservative Tennessee doer, and Congressman Ford, who is a liberal Washington talker," Mitchell said.

"For over 30 years, he's been right here in Tennessee using conservative principles to achieve success as a businessman, as a civic leader and while serving as mayor of Chattanooga. He'll take those same results to Washington and get things done for Tennesseans."
Michael Powell, senior advisor to Ford, was quick to respond.

"These guys are maliciously distorting and lying about (Ford's) record," Powell said.

"Bob Corker has only two strategies -- scare voters and slander Harold Ford Jr. The voters are not buying Mr. Corker's scare tactics. They want the truth. Until he starts saying something positive about the issues, he will fall further behind in the polls."

Both candidates have referred to their faith in ads, though Ford's TV ad was the most audacious. One political pundit called the Ford ad "risky and brilliant." It's taped in Mount Moriah-East Baptist Church in Memphis, and Ford talks about how he learned about religion as a youngster and accuses Corker of "doing wrong" by "telling untruths" about him.

Corker has run an ad talking about an experience that changed his life when he took a mission trip to Haiti after seeing a church notice.

The Big Show: Harold Ford Jr. and Bob Corker and the Race for Senate

The following article is an excerpt from our October issue. For more political coverage by the leading conservative magazine in West Tennessee, subscribe now.
By Jonathan Lindberg

In Sumner County, in the heart of rural Tennessee, Harold Ford Jr. has rolled up his shirt-sleeves and is making his stump-speech. The Sumner County Democrats are having a summer picnic, though the atmosphere feels more like a revival service. Wooden benches and slow-moving fans. A corded microphone with which Ford struggles. “It is 2006,” he yells, over the noise from the crowd, “still, we buy more gas and pay more for it than we did five years ago. And they (Republicans) want two more years? Give-me-a-break.”

The group breaks in with enthusiastic applause, whistles and even a few amen’s. Ford, looking unusually casual in jeans and an open-collared shirt, is on a roll. He moves from gas prices to the Middle East, building momentum as the noise from the crowd grows. He is working them now, talking about giving-farmers-a-chance, about creating an environment where kids from rural towns can grow up to be scientists and doctors and engineers. Not the kind of speech you would hear, say in downtown Nashville, but to this crowd, it plays well.

“I come from this big old family in Memphis; you may have read about them on occasion.” He smiles and waits for the laughter. “My parents told me over, and over, and over again, you can be whatever you want to be. They made us go to church. They made us do our homework. You know, I just believe that any kid can do well, if they are just given the chance. Rich kids are not the only kids that can do well in this country.”

It is the last line that draws the applause.

If the race for Senate in Tennessee is to be the deciding factor for control of the U.S. Senate after November, than voters like these in Sumner County, rural Middle and West Tennessee, will be the deciding voices as to who will fill that seat, Democrat Harold Ford Jr. or Republican Bob Corker.

For Bob Corker, the former Mayor of Chattanooga, the race for U.S. Senate has been in full-swing since early May, a time when he was still registering single digits in primary polls across the state. That was the month that the Corker campaign began its media blitz, starting with the much-talked about commercial that had Corker, who carries the one-of-the-most distinctive Tennessee drawls of any state-wide candidate in recent years, sitting beside his mother, glancing through the old family album. The everyman-effect was overwhelming.

Corker, who resides in Chattanooga, touts his humble origins, having started his own construction company in 1978 with only $8,000 in pocket. Over the next fifteen years, the construction business would make him a multimillionaire, not only giving him unlimited contacts among wealthy business owners throughout Tennessee, but also giving him a clear advantage in media buying power in 2006, which ultimately decided the primary race.

Jeff Vanness, Senior Policy Advisor to the Ed Bryant campaign, put it to me like this, “Bob Corker was able to sit down and write one check to his campaign, for more money than Ed was able to raise during his entire two years on the trail.” This, in a tone still lingering with frustration. More than any stance on any single policy issue, this is what decided the primary race.

Bryant and Van Hilleary, both former Congressmen, spent the better part of the last year working over the same crowd of conservatives, seeking out campaign contributions and votes with the same message, trying to convince a crowd that still supported President Bush that Bob Corker was no conservative. It worked to a degree, until the television commercials appeared. In a matter of thirty days, Corker outspent his opponents four-to-one, and was able to push himself back to the right and into the lead, painting himself as a true red-state-conservative, pro-life and pro-President-Bush.

The other candidates saw it coming, but there was nothing they could do to stop it.
On election night, August 3, the once three-way race quickly became two, as Hilleary conceded, in odd fashion, before the polls had even closed. Not long after, Bryant faded, conceding the hard-fought battle to Corker.

What should have been a headline though turned into an aside. While Corker was celebrating in Chattanooga, Harold Ford Jr., who had run mostly unopposed, showed up at a victory rally in Nashville, alongside the icon of the Democratic Party, former-President Bill Clinton. The pair captured the ten-o’clock news and stole the thunder from the Republicans.

This event marked the beginning of the Ford campaign in-full-speed. It also introduced Corker to what his East Tennessee friend, Congressman Zach Wamp (R-TN) calls, the ‘quasi-celebrity-status’ of Harold Ford Jr.

In late February, Ford kicked off his run for the Senate here in Memphis, alongside another star in the Democratic Party, Senator Barack Obama (D-IL). In the lobby of the Holiday Inn at the University of Memphis, a group of three-hundred-or-so Ford supporters and curious onlookers gathered together, waiting for Ford to come through the revolving doors. The lobby was filled with bodies and signs, leaving only a small path toward an escalator which led up to the Grand Ballroom, where eight-hundred more Ford supporters awaited his arrival.

It might have been late February, but the mood felt more like October. Ford arrived forty-five minutes late, however the moment he walked through the doors, there were cheers and screams, the kind you might associate with teenagers at a rock concert. Ford was flanked by Senator Obama and Shelby County Mayor A.C. Wharton. The marching band from a local high school began to play outside and the three began to work the crowd, slowly.

It took Ford and Obama twenty minutes to reach the top of the escalator. They were followed by chants of, “Junior, Junior!” Ahead came the song Let’s Get it Started, by the Black Eyed Peas. To this, Ford and Obama entered the Grand Ballroom, loud and filled to over-capacity.
It was only February, but the star power that would follow this campaign was already apparent.
Ford has had the unique luxury of running a national campaign for a state-wide race. He has held major fundraisers in Washington D.C., New York City, and Los Angeles, raising a bulk of his money out-of-state. The free publicity Ford receives on any given week can at times seem overwhelming. Both Time and USA Today have devoted full-length articles to his campaign. He is a frequent guest on MSNBC and CNBC, along with radio shows across the state. The cameras of C-SPAN, which are always rolling, have aired campaign stops in East Tennessee. Corker, no doubt tired of the free exposure his opponent receives, has acquired a standard response, “My opponent sure knows how to talk, doesn’t he?”

But the question is, will national publicity translate into Tennessee votes? Matt Kuhn, Chairman of the Democratic Party for Shelby County, put it to me like this. “National media won’t mean a thing come the last four weeks of the election. The question then is, does a campaign have enough money left to run an effective media blitz throughout the state? You have to win voters from all sides, from Starbucks to Hardees.”

So far, Corker has remained somewhat immune to the national exposure of his opponent, remaining slightly ahead in most polls. Those following the Corker campaign in Shelby County still believe this race is his to lose. “There is no doubt, Bob Corker is a charismatic politician,” Tennessee State Representative Tre Hargett told me over lunch. “Bob has done a great job of reaching out to conservative voters who did not necessarily support him during the primaries.”
In fact, Van Hilleary has campaigned for Corker in the crucial counties of Middle Tennessee, where Hilleary still has some support and where Corker badly needs votes to win. What is odd though, at least to this writer, is the obvious silence from Ed Bryant, the conservative voice for West Tennessee, who swung hard at Corker during the primaries.

Over the past month, Bryant has sent out fundraising letters for both Jim Bryson for Governor and State Senator David Fowler, who is heading up the Family Action Council of Tennessee in efforts to push through the Marriage Amendment Act on the November ballot.

I asked Jeff Vanness about this implied silence from Bryant. Vanness seemed somewhat dismissive. “Look, Ed took the stage with Bob the day after the election and pledged his support. He has appeared with Bob since then. Ed has done whatever Bob has asked him to do.” Which apparently is not that much.

Campaigns like this, with no incumbent, are often about style, and less about substance. The brilliance of the Corker campaign has been its ability to transform a multimillionaire businessman into an everyman-in-jeans. It has also been successful in depicting Ford as Washington insider, a label that seems to resonate at a point when Washington politicians are attracting the same approval ratings as Vanilla Coke.

On an appearance on Hardball with Chris Matthews (MSNBC), Ford, providing a rare stumble over a complicated sentence, apologized to Matthews for his “country ways.” Even to the political outsider watching Ford, who appeared from Los Angeles following a campaign fundraiser, it was a rare moment that did not ring true.

On the broader issue of substance, namely that of Iraq, the one issue that has defined close elections in other Senate races across the country (Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Missouri, and Virginia), both candidates have made little noise.

Ford, who voted in Congress to authorize the use of force, has resisted the calls of his fellow Democrats for a timetable or an immediate withdrawal from Iraq. During his appearance on Hardball, Ford even defended the President, saying, “In fairness to President Bush, it is doubtful had the President known (about the faulty intelligence), he would have brought the resolution for the use of force.” Such moderate compassion, for a President extremely unpopular among those on the left, has angered many voters on the left, hoping for a candidate that will strongly oppose the policies of President Bush.

Corker on the other hand, has an even tighter rope to walk. President Bush has already visited Tennessee twice on his behalf. On his most recent trip to Memphis, the President raised a million dollars for the Corker campaign. Corker, dependent upon Republican support, both here in Tennessee and in Washington, has given his full support to the war. “I cannot imagine what Iraq would look like if we left.”

In a climate of rising death tolls and plummeting public approval, full support for an unpopular war has dismantled similar races in other states.

On September 15, the NashvillePost.com printed a revealing story concerning a conference call that supposedly took place between the Republican National Headquarters in Washington D.C. and representatives from the Tennessee State Republican Party and the Bob Corker campaign. According to the article, the representatives from Tennessee were “bluntly told by those in Washington that the effort being put forth (in Tennessee) was unacceptable and would not be tolerated.”

The following week, The New York Times ran a front page splash declaring that the once-secure Tennessee could be lost to the Democrats, the result of the aggressive campaign being run by U.S. Representative Harold Ford Jr.

The race, no doubt, has become close. Depending on the poll you read, and the day you read it, Corker or Ford might be ahead by any number of points. Close, but by no means decided.
The very fact that the once-secure race has become close is a testament to the drive that has fueled the Ford campaign over the past two months. One state Republican leader, speaking on the condition of anonymity, confided to me that the Corker campaign was caught off guard by Ford and his barrage of positive campaign commercials. He believed the momentum had shifted, at least for now, to the other side.

Still, all that means very little until November and Election Day. The month of October holds three major debates in three major media markets across Tennessee, as well as thirty days of television ads.

In the month of October, style and substance will collide, and a two-year race that is for now, too-close-to-call, will be decided. And we will be watching.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Big Show: Harold Ford Jr. and Bob Corker and the Race for Senate

The following article is an excerpt from our October issue. For more political coverage by the leading conservative magazine in West Tennessee, subscribe now.

By Jonathan Lindberg

In Sumner County, in the heart of rural Tennessee, Harold Ford Jr. has rolled up his shirt-sleeves and is making his stump-speech. The Sumner County Democrats are having a summer picnic, though the atmosphere feels more like a revival service. Wooden benches and slow-moving fans. A corded microphone with which Ford struggles. “It is 2006,” he yells, over the noise from the crowd, “still, we buy more gas and pay more for it than we did five years ago. And they (Republicans) want two more years? Give-me-a-break.”

The group breaks in with enthusiastic applause, whistles and even a few amen’s. Ford, looking unusually casual in jeans and an open-collared shirt, is on a roll. He moves from gas prices to the Middle East, building momentum as the noise from the crowd grows. He is working them now, talking about giving-farmers-a-chance, about creating an environment where kids from rural towns can grow up to be scientists and doctors and engineers. Not the kind of speech you would hear, say in downtown Nashville, but to this crowd, it plays well.

“I come from this big old family in Memphis; you may have read about them on occasion.” He smiles and waits for the laughter. “My parents told me over, and over, and over again, you can be whatever you want to be. They made us go to church. They made us do our homework. You know, I just believe that any kid can do well, if they are just given the chance. Rich kids are not the only kids that can do well in this country.”

It is the last line that draws the applause.

If the race for Senate in Tennessee is to be the deciding factor for control of the U.S. Senate after November, than voters like these in Sumner County, rural Middle and West Tennessee, will be the deciding voices as to who will fill that seat, Democrat Harold Ford Jr. or Republican Bob Corker.

For Bob Corker, the former Mayor of Chattanooga, the race for U.S. Senate has been in full-swing since early May, a time when he was still registering single digits in primary polls across the state. That was the month that the Corker campaign began its media blitz, starting with the much-talked about commercial that had Corker, who carries the one-of-the-most distinctive Tennessee drawls of any state-wide candidate in recent years, sitting beside his mother, glancing through the old family album. The everyman-effect was overwhelming.

Corker, who resides in Chattanooga, touts his humble origins, having started his own construction company in 1978 with only $8,000 in pocket. Over the next fifteen years, the construction business would make him a multimillionaire, not only giving him unlimited contacts among wealthy business owners throughout Tennessee, but also giving him a clear advantage in media buying power in 2006, which ultimately decided the primary race.

Jeff Vanness, Senior Policy Advisor to the Ed Bryant campaign, put it to me like this, “Bob Corker was able to sit down and write one check to his campaign, for more money than Ed was able to raise during his entire two years on the trail.” This, in a tone still lingering with frustration. More than any stance on any single policy issue, this is what decided the primary race.

Bryant and Van Hilleary, both former Congressmen, spent the better part of the last year working over the same crowd of conservatives, seeking out campaign contributions and votes with the same message, trying to convince a crowd that still supported President Bush that Bob Corker was no conservative. It worked to a degree, until the television commercials appeared. In a matter of thirty days, Corker outspent his opponents four-to-one, and was able to push himself back to the right and into the lead, painting himself as a true red-state-conservative, pro-life and pro-President-Bush.

The other candidates saw it coming, but there was nothing they could do to stop it.

On election night, August 3, the once three-way race quickly became two, as Hilleary conceded, in odd fashion, before the polls had even closed. Not long after, Bryant faded, conceding the hard-fought battle to Corker.

What should have been a headline though turned into an aside. While Corker was celebrating in Chattanooga, Harold Ford Jr., who had run mostly unopposed, showed up at a victory rally in Nashville, alongside the icon of the Democratic Party, former-President Bill Clinton. The pair captured the ten-o’clock news and stole the thunder from the Republicans.

This event marked the beginning of the Ford campaign in-full-speed. It also introduced Corker to what his East Tennessee friend, Congressman Zach Wamp (R-TN) calls, the ‘quasi-celebrity-status’ of Harold Ford Jr.

In late February, Ford kicked off his run for the Senate here in Memphis, alongside another star in the Democratic Party, Senator Barack Obama (D-IL). In the lobby of the Holiday Inn at the University of Memphis, a group of three-hundred-or-so Ford supporters and curious onlookers gathered together, waiting for Ford to come through the revolving doors. The lobby was filled with bodies and signs, leaving only a small path toward an escalator which led up to the Grand Ballroom, where eight-hundred more Ford supporters awaited his arrival.

It might have been late February, but the mood felt more like October. Ford arrived forty-five minutes late, however the moment he walked through the doors, there were cheers and screams, the kind you might associate with teenagers at a rock concert. Ford was flanked by Senator Obama and Shelby County Mayor A.C. Wharton. The marching band from a local high school began to play outside and the three began to work the crowd, slowly.

It took Ford and Obama twenty minutes to reach the top of the escalator. They were followed by chants of, “Junior, Junior!” Ahead came the song Let’s Get it Started, by the Black Eyed Peas. To this, Ford and Obama entered the Grand Ballroom, loud and filled to over-capacity.
It was only February, but the star power that would follow this campaign was already apparent.
Ford has had the unique luxury of running a national campaign for a state-wide race. He has held major fundraisers in Washington D.C., New York City, and Los Angeles, raising a bulk of his money out-of-state. The free publicity Ford receives on any given week can at times seem overwhelming. Both Time and USA Today have devoted full-length articles to his campaign. He is a frequent guest on MSNBC and CNBC, along with radio shows across the state. The cameras of C-SPAN, which are always rolling, have aired campaign stops in East Tennessee. Corker, no doubt tired of the free exposure his opponent receives, has acquired a standard response, “My opponent sure knows how to talk, doesn’t he?”

But the question is, will national publicity translate into Tennessee votes? Matt Kuhn, Chairman of the Democratic Party for Shelby County, put it to me like this. “National media won’t mean a thing come the last four weeks of the election. The question then is, does a campaign have enough money left to run an effective media blitz throughout the state? You have to win voters from all sides, from Starbucks to Hardees.”

So far, Corker has remained somewhat immune to the national exposure of his opponent, remaining slightly ahead in most polls. Those following the Corker campaign in Shelby County still believe this race is his to lose. “There is no doubt, Bob Corker is a charismatic politician,” Tennessee State Representative Tre Hargett told me over lunch. “Bob has done a great job of reaching out to conservative voters who did not necessarily support him during the primaries.”
In fact, Van Hilleary has campaigned for Corker in the crucial counties of Middle Tennessee, where Hilleary still has some support and where Corker badly needs votes to win. What is odd though, at least to this writer, is the obvious silence from Ed Bryant, the conservative voice for West Tennessee, who swung hard at Corker during the primaries.

Over the past month, Bryant has sent out fundraising letters for both Jim Bryson for Governor and State Senator David Fowler, who is heading up the Family Action Council of Tennessee in efforts to push through the Marriage Amendment Act on the November ballot.

I asked Jeff Vanness about this implied silence from Bryant. Vanness seemed somewhat dismissive. “Look, Ed took the stage with Bob the day after the election and pledged his support. He has appeared with Bob since then. Ed has done whatever Bob has asked him to do.” Which apparently is not that much.

Campaigns like this, with no incumbent, are often about style, and less about substance. The brilliance of the Corker campaign has been its ability to transform a multimillionaire businessman into an everyman-in-jeans. It has also been successful in depicting Ford as Washington insider, a label that seems to resonate at a point when Washington politicians are attracting the same approval ratings as Vanilla Coke.

On an appearance on Hardball with Chris Matthews (MSNBC), Ford, providing a rare stumble over a complicated sentence, apologized to Matthews for his “country ways.” Even to the political outsider watching Ford, who appeared from Los Angeles following a campaign fundraiser, it was a rare moment that did not ring true.

On the broader issue of substance, namely that of Iraq, the one issue that has defined close elections in other Senate races across the country (Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Missouri, and Virginia), both candidates have made little noise.

Ford, who voted in Congress to authorize the use of force, has resisted the calls of his fellow Democrats for a timetable or an immediate withdrawal from Iraq. During his appearance on Hardball, Ford even defended the President, saying, “In fairness to President Bush, it is doubtful had the President known (about the faulty intelligence), he would have brought the resolution for the use of force.” Such moderate compassion, for a President extremely unpopular among those on the left, has angered many voters on the left, hoping for a candidate that will strongly oppose the policies of President Bush.

Corker on the other hand, has an even tighter rope to walk. President Bush has already visited Tennessee twice on his behalf. On his most recent trip to Memphis, the President raised a million dollars for the Corker campaign. Corker, dependent upon Republican support, both here in Tennessee and in Washington, has given his full support to the war. “I cannot imagine what Iraq would look like if we left.”

In a climate of rising death tolls and plummeting public approval, full support for an unpopular war has dismantled similar races in other states.

On September 15, the NashvillePost.com printed a revealing story concerning a conference call that supposedly took place between the Republican National Headquarters in Washington D.C. and representatives from the Tennessee State Republican Party and the Bob Corker campaign. According to the article, the representatives from Tennessee were “bluntly told by those in Washington that the effort being put forth (in Tennessee) was unacceptable and would not be tolerated.”

The following week, The New York Times ran a front page splash declaring that the once-secure Tennessee could be lost to the Democrats, the result of the aggressive campaign being run by U.S. Representative Harold Ford Jr.

The race, no doubt, has become close. Depending on the poll you read, and the day you read it, Corker or Ford might be ahead by any number of points. Close, but by no means decided.

The very fact that the once-secure race has become close is a testament to the drive that has fueled the Ford campaign over the past two months. One state Republican leader, speaking on the condition of anonymity, confided to me that the Corker campaign was caught off guard by Ford and his barrage of positive campaign commercials. He believed the momentum had shifted, at least for now, to the other side.

Still, all that means very little until November and Election Day. The month of October holds three major debates in three major media markets across Tennessee, as well as thirty days of television ads.

In the month of October, style and substance will collide, and a two-year race that is for now, too-close-to-call, will be decided. And we will be watching.

Jay-Z - History



(Jay-Z - History)Jay-Z - History with Lyrics

LYRICS : [Chorus: Cee-lo]
Now that all the smoke is gone
(Lighter)
And the battle's finally won
(Gimme a lighter)
Victory (Lighters up) is finally ours
(Lighters up)
History, so long, so long
So long, so long

[Verse 1: Jay-Z]
In search of victory, she keeps eluding me
If only we could be together momentarily
We can make love and make history
Why won't you visit me? until she visit me
I'll be stuck with her sister, her name is defeat
She gives me agony, so much agony
She brings me so much pain, so much misery
Like missing your last shot and falling to your knees
As the crowd screams for the other team
I practice so hard for this moment, victory don't leave
I know what this means, I'm stuck in this routine
Whole new different day, same old thing
All I got is dreams, nobody else can see
Nobody else believes, nobody else but me
Where are you victory? I need you desperately
Not just for the moment, to make history

[Chorus: Cee-lo]
Now that all the smoke is gone
(Lighters)
And the battle's finally won
(Lighters)
Victory is finally ours
(Yeah)
History (yeah), so long, so long
So long, so long

[Verse 2: Jay-Z]
So now I'm flirting with death, hustling like a G
While victory wasn't watching took chances repeatedly
As a teenage boy before acne, before I got proactiv I couldn't face she
I just threw on my hoodie and headed to the street
That's where I met success, we'd live together shortly
Now success is like lust, she's good to the touch
She's good for the moment but she's never enough
Everybody's had her, she's nothing like V
But success is all I got unfortunately
But I'm burning down the block hoppin' in and out of V
But something tells me that there's much more to see
Before I get killed because I can't get robbed
So before me success and death ménage
I gotta get lost, I gotta find V
We gotta be together to make history

[Chorus: Cee-lo]
Now that all the smoke is gone
(Lighters. Up.)
And the battle's finally won
(Lighter. Up.)
Victory is finally ours
(Lighters. Up.)
History, so long, so long
So long, so long

[Verse 3: Jay-Z]
Now victory is mine, it tastes so sweet
She's my trophy wife, you're coming with me
We'll have a baby who stutters repeatedly
We'll name him history, he'll repeat after me
He's my legacy, son of my hard work
Future of my past, he'll explain who I be
Rank me amongst the greats, either 1, 2, or 3
If I ain't number one then I failed you victory
Ain't in it for the fame that dies within weeks
Ain't in it for the money, can't take it when you leave
I wanna be remembered long after you grieve
Long after I'm gone, long after I breathe
I leave all I am in the hands of history
That's my last will and testimony
This is much more than a song, it's a baby shower
I've been waiting for this hour, history you ours


[Chorus: Cee-lo (2x)]
Now that all the smoke is gone
And the battle's finally won
Victory is finally ours
History, so long, so long
So long, so long



Man in the Mirror--By Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson - Man in the mirror

I'm gonna make a change,
for once im my life
It's gonna feel real good,
gonna make a diference
Gonna make it right...

As I, turn up the collar on
my favorite winter coat
This wind is blowing my mind
I see the kids in the streets,
with not enought to eat
Who am I to be blind?
Pretending not to see their needs

A summer disregard,a broken bottle top
And a one man soul
They follow each other on the wind ya' know
'Cause they got nowhere to go
That's why I want you to know

I'm starting with the man in the mirror
I'm asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
(If you wanna make the world a better place)
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change
(Take a look at yourself, and then make a change)
(Na na na, na na na, na na, na nah)

I've been a victim of a selfish kind of love
It's time that I realize
That there are some with no home, not a nickel to loan
Could it be really me, pretending that they're not alone?

A willow deeply scarred, somebody's broken heart
And a washed-out dream
(Washed-out dream)
They follow the pattern of the wind ya' see
'Cause they got no place to be
That's why I'm starting with me
(Starting with me!)

I'm starting with the man in the mirror
(Ooh!)
I'm asking him to change his ways
(Ooh!)
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
(If you wanna make the world a better place)
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change
(Take a look at yourself, and then make a change)

I'm starting with the man in the mirror
(Ooh!)
I'm asking him to change his ways
(Change his ways - ooh!)
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself and then make that..
(Take a look at yourself and then make that..)
CHANGE!

I'm starting with the man in the mirror
(Man in the mirror - Oh yeah!)
I'm asking him to change his ways
(Better change!)
No message could have been any clearer
(If you wanna make the world a better place)


Michael Jackson - Man in the mirror

A Change is Gonna Come by Sam Cook






It's been a long time coming but a change is surely going to come in America and the World! I am the Future of America and the World and that is the message that each of us must carry with us each and every day that we wake up on Earth! I am the Future! You are the Future! We are the Future of America and the World! That is way every election is important--primaries, special elections and general! So vote every year and hold our politicians accountable. Hold our political officials accountable by writing them, calling them and making sure they attend meetings that we the people have. "The Time for Change is not Now but Right Now!"

"EmPOWERment By Any Means Necessary" should be our anthem and should be our creed as we make the positive differences in America and the world that so many people beg for and hungry for year after year! A Change is Gonna Come, A Change is Gonna Come, that's what we must say as we say "God grants us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, Courge to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference" each morning before we go about the task of making a positive change in America and the world a reality.



Born In The U.S.A. - Bruce Springsteen


“When will people realize that we are Americans first and foremost, not Democrats or Liberals, not Republicans or Conservatives, not Independents or moderates. We are Americans. Stop putting a political party above America and stop putting any politican above America. America succeeds because of us the people holding our government responsible no matter the political party because the main two political parties are to blame for the condition America is in."—Hodari P.T. Brown

America with its flaws and all is a country I am proud to have been born in. America is not perfect but my love for it is perfect. That’s why all Americans must realize that we are all Americans. In fact we are Americans first and foremost. We are not Democrats or Republicans. We are Americans.

We are not Muslims, Christians or Jews. We are Americans. Too many times we recognize our differences with others rather than appreciating our similarities which are, we are Americans. We are Americans first and foremost, no matter if we were born here or moved here legally. We are all Americans, here in this country to make not only our lives better but the lives of other Americans better so future Americans can enjoy the rights and freedoms that make us all Americans.

We are all Americans. We are one party united under God. We are Americans and this is the only political party that matters. We are Americans and this is our country so let’s make sure that we make America better than how we found it so future Americans can live prosperous and joyous lives. We are Americans and must not ever forget that.

America will prosper as long we make sure we are doing our part to make it prosper and that means we can’t put any political party or politician above America. Long live America forever and long live America’s service to the world. Together, America and the world will prosper for future generations to enjoy America and the world we live in.


Lift Every Voice and Sing


This video of the ' Negro National Anthem' was originally screened at the historic African-American Church Inaugural Ball in Washington, DC on January 18th, 2009. Many of the esteemed individuals featured in this video in attendance and we presented with the ' Keepers of the Flame' award for the monumental contributions to social justice.

This version of the song was performed by the Grace Baptist Church Cathedral Choir, conducted by Derrick James. The video was produced and donated by Ascender Communications, LLC (www.ascender-c.com) at the request of The Balm In Gilead, Inc.

If I Was President--Wyclef Jean




If I was President that is the people's anthem. We all have ideas of what we can do as President and through this website, we will fulfill our deam as a people!

Somethings Gotta Give--Big Boi ft Mary J Blige



Somethings Gotta Give people and it begins today for all us to make sure that something is us. We the people are sick and tired of suffering. Where is our piece of the Dream that so many people dead for so that we all could see today. This is our time people to change America and the world so that the Next Generation has a better future than the past we inherited.

This is our call to service. This isn't about one political candidate or one political figure. This is about us as people coming together to finally leave up to our potential and achieving the great feats that those before us have achieved. This is our moment to lead our nation and our world to greater heights.

Somethings gotta give people and it starts with us the people making it happen. We have to improve our education system in America. We have to rid the world of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. We have to go to the streets and lift a hand to another in order to decrease poverty in this world. We have to take a stand today and make sure that the future of America and the world is brighter than it has ever been.

Somethings Gotta Give and that is why we must "Remember Each One, Reach One and Teach One so America's future and the World's future continues to prosper."

John Legend - "If You're Out There"


If you're out there than you need to get started in helping to change America and the world. The world and America won't change until you get involved in making the changes you want to see in this world. If you're out there, than you must know that tomorrow started now and today started yesterday so you are behind in helping to the change. If you are tired of hatred, racism, poverty, war, and violence than the time to change it is now. If you want universal health care, world peace, democracy for every nation, equal rights, and happiness for all than you must get involved now to help the save world.

You must believe in the change that you want to see and you must act on making that change a reality. If you're out there than say it aloud and show the rest of America and the world that you're out here to make a real positive change in the communities we stay in. If you're out there than get involved now. I'm calling every women and men to join me as we take back our country right here, right now. If you're out there than the future started yersterday and we are already late so we have lots of work to do but I know we can do it together as one.

YES WE CAN



Yes We Can accomplish anything that we set out to do! We don't need charismatic or inspirational leaders to believe in ourselves and to take responsiblity for our own faith, we just need each other. Yes We Can build a new America and a new world if each of us would take action now to make the changes that we want to see in the world. Yes We Can control government by holding our political officials accountable for their actions by calling them out when they don't pass legislation that supports the common good of all man and by voting in every election to ensure that we have people representing the people locally, state wide, nationally and in the world.

Yes We Can be great! Yes We Can be what we want to be! Yes We Can be glorious in not only America but the world! Yes We can put action behind our worlds and change the world starting right here, right now! Yes We Can as Republicans, Democrats and Independents become one as we freely think about our fellow men and women and make decisions that will be in the best interest of all people and not one single group.

Yes We Can be the change that we want to see in the world! Yes We Can show the world that the youth are ready to lead! Yes We Can put our egos, our social economic statuses, our religions, our educational statuses and our skin color to the side for the better good of the world! Yes We Can be Greater than we have ever been and help others be Greater than they have ever be!

YES WE CAN and YES WE WILL BE VICTORIOUS IN ALL THAT WE DO! YES WE CAN, no matter what others may say, we will be glorious! YES WE WILL and YES WE CAN! YES WE CAN!

YES WE CAN! YES WE CAN! YES WE CAN is what will be sung from every mountaintop, every riverbank, every household, every school yard, every factory, every sporting event, every college campus and even every place you can imagine in the world is where YES WE CAN, will be said and heard!

YES WE CAN!

Keep On Pushing - Curtis Mayfield & the Impressions


Wake Up People! No matter who is elected to any public office, we have to “Keep On Pushing” as a people to make sure they don’t leave us in a worst state than what they inherited. We as a people have to “Keep On Pushing” to make a difference in the lives of others. We have to have an “EmPOWERment By Any Means Necessary” attitude as we continue to push our agenda that we the people deserve and want better. We have to “Keep On Pushing” to bring about change in a positive way that will benefit all Americans no matter their age, their religion or skin color. We have to “Keep On Pushing” to bring about change that will improve our education system, improve our military, improve our national security, improve our healthcare system and improve our economy. We have to “Keep On Pushing” to bring about change that will leave America’s future in a better than how we found it and that will leave the world’s future in a better state than we imagined we could live it. We have to “Keep On Pushing” to make life better for our neighborhoods, our families and even our quote on quote enemies. We have to “Keep On Pushing” to inspire, to uplift and to guide those who need help spiritually, physically and mentally. We have to “Keep On Pushing ” so that our lives, our future generation’s lives and the lives of those who came before us does not die in vein.

“Keep on Pushing”

A War For Your Soul

A War For Your Soul-regular version from Erisai Films on Vimeo.


The moment has come for us as a nation of people to finally wake up and realize that our destiny and fate in society has rests on our shoulders. We cannot allow the forces of evil and darkness to drain us out. We have to continue to overcome all odds in order to make the future of our nation better and the future of future generations of Americans better. We have to continue to pray to our Lord and we have to continue to uplift each other in prayer as well as take action against those things that are trying to destroy us. We have to stand up once and for all and be the future that we want to be. Now is our time and we shall do together by any means necessary.

This video was created to inspire young African-Americans not to fall prey to some of the problems they face in society. The use of the voice "Master of Darkness" represents evil, which is where the blame of all problems should be placed, and not on any one group of people. This video should not to be used to divide people (Black & White), there are images of heroes that are white in this video, and there are images of Black & White coming together with the words of Dr. King in the background. Some of the images from the past can be unsettling, but they are used to show all Americans how far we have come, and how far we still have to go. This film is being strategically placed in school systems, churches and youth orgs around the country, in hope of helping a lost generation of kids that we as Americans have forgotten. As fellow Americans we must continue to love each other, and take that love and spread it to the rest of the world. **THIS VIDEO IS NOT FOR SALE & I AM NOT ACCEPTING DONATIONS FOR THE FILM, I ONLY WANT THE MESSAGE TO REACH AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE WITHOUT ANY HIDDEN POLITICAL OR FINANCIAL AGENDA.
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Sitting On the Dock of the Bay by Otis Redding



"The time for sitting is over! The time for action is now! The time for hope without action is hopeless! The time for change without a positive attitude is a change that we can't believe in! We need change that is positive of helping all people! Our time for action is now, our time for hope is now, our time for change is now and our time to believe that we can do whatever we set our minds to is not now but right now!"

STAR SPANGLED BANNER


The Star-Spangled Banner by Francis Scott Key

O say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming;
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave?


On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, now conceals, now discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines on the stream;
'Tis the star-spangled banner; O long may it wave
O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave,
From the terror of flight and the gloom of the grave;
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave!


O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land,
Praise the power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, for our cause it is just.
And this be our motto— "In God is our trust; "
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.

Black President



Our Time is not now but Right Now! Our Time has finally come to change the world not now but Right Now! If you don't believe that we can change the world than watch as we do it by changing your mind into believing in us and what we can do! This is OUR TIME RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW!

FIGHT THE POWER



We got to FIGHT THE POWER! We can no longer sit on the sidelines and watch injustices take place. We can no longer sit by and allow our right to vote to become unexercised. We must FIGHT THE POWER for our past, present and future! We can no longer allow our rights to be oppressed and our voice to become drained by the powers at be. We must FIGHT THE POWER and show that we have a lot to say that needs to be heard by the mainstream media. We must FIGHT THE POWER and live up to our potential as dynamic, unbelievable and phenomenal people.


We must not believe the hype but we must become the hype. We are not Harriett Tubman, Marcus Garvey, MLK, Malcolm X, Booker T. Washington, Carter G. Woodson, W.E.B. DuBois, the Black Panther Party, SNCC, or any other activists but we are the fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, uncles, aunties, and relatives of those who came before us to pave the way for us to FIGHT THE POWER! We are not next Generation of leaders who will not be honored and praised until they die but that’s the fight we accept. We are not fighting the power for glory or fame but we are fighting the power for just causes that most men and women will not understand until years or decades later.


We are fighting for our sisters and brothers in Darfur, Georgia, Iraq, Iran, China and Mexico. We are speaking for those who are poor and have no food or water. We are fighting for those who are sick and dying. We are fighting for universal healthcare across the world and human rights for all people. We are fighting for rich and poor! We must FIGHT THE POWER no matter how hard and tough the road may be. We must FIGHT THE POWER for a better today and an even greater tomorrow!


FIGHT THE POWER!

PEOPLE GET READY


“People Get Ready” our time is coming! We have come too far to turn back now. Our train is coming and it is coming in waves. “People Get Ready”, we don’t need a ticket but we need faith and the Lord will help guide us as we take back America and the world. “People Get Ready” our moment is now and we are ready to see the change we want in America and the world. All we got to do is have faith, hope and prosperity. “People Get Ready” to face your fears. “People Get Ready” to face your demons and the challenges of yesterday because today and tomorrow we will conquer & be victorious. “People Get Ready” a change is coming and our actions will make sure that change is a real positive change that lasts forever.


“People Get Ready” because we have had enough of just talking but now is our time to show action. “People Get Ready” to take back America and the world. “People Get Ready” to take back our communities and to make our streets safer and schools better. “People Get Ready” to make all our dreams come true. “People Get Ready” to see a better present for everyone and a better future for future generations. “People Get Ready” to live up to your potential and to help others live up to their own potential. “People Get Ready” to move past hatred, bigotry, racism and sexism. “People Get Ready” to fulfill the dreams of those who came before us and those who will come after us.


“People Get Ready” as we make our actions speak louder than our words. “People Get Ready” to make words mean something again as we put action to back up our rhetoric. “People Get Ready” as we embark on a new journey that will re-write America’s history as well as the world’s history. “People Get Ready” as we make the lives of others better and the lives of future generations better. “People Get Ready” because all we need is faith, hope and action to make this world a better place. “People Get Ready” to make a difference. “People Get Ready” to fulfill the American dream. “People Get Ready" to live out the American Dream as our founding fathers wanted us to live it. “People Get Ready” because our time is now, our moment is now and our moment in time to change America & the world is not now but right now. “People Get Ready” because a change is coming!


Alicia]
(Let me tell you now)
People get ready, there's a train comin'
You don't need no baggage, you just get on board
All you need is faith to hear the diesels hummin'
You don't need no ticket, you just thank the lord

[Lyfe]
People get ready, for a train to Jordan
Picking up passengers coast to coast
Faith is the key, open the doors and board them
There's hope for all among those loved the most

[Alicia]
There ain't no room for the hopeless sinner
Who would hurt all man kind just to save his own (believe me now)
Have pity on those whose chances grow thinner
For there's no hiding place against the kingdoms throne

[Alicia & Lyfe]
So people get ready there's a train coming
You don't need no baggage, you just get on board
All you need is faith to hear the diesels humming,
You don't need no ticket, you just thank the lord


“PEOPLE GET READY!”

God Bless the U.S.A. by Lee Greenwood


Lee Greenwood-god bless the U.S.A