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Transcript: Tennessee Senate Candidate Harold Ford on 'FNS'
Written by Chris Wallace / Published October 30, 2006 / Fox News Sunday
The following is a partial transcript of the Oct. 29, 2006, edition of "FOX News Sunday With Chris Wallace":
"FOX NEWS SUNDAY" HOST CHRIS WALLACE: We want to begin our coverage of the home stretch of this campaign by taking a look at two of the key Senate races. In Tennessee, Democratic Congressman Harold Ford is running for an open seat now held by the GOP. Congressman Ford joins us now from Nashville. We should note we also invited his Republican opponent, but Bob Corker was not available.
Congressman Ford, let's take a look at the RealClearPolitics.com average of all the key polls in your state in recent weeks. Let's take a look at it here. It shows your opponent, Mr. Corker, with a two-point lead. Is that where the race is now, Congressman, and, given the Republican advantage in fund-raising, finances and voter turnout organization, how do you overcome that in the final week?
REP. HAROLD FORD: Well, we have polls showing a little different. The momentum here is outstanding on our side. I think the real issue in the campaign has emerged. People in Tennessee who are satisfied being paramedics and cops and firefighters with health insurance premiums, who are satisfied with this war in Iraq, they don't want to vote for me, because I'm going to go to Washington and be a part of shaking up an effort, or I should say, shaking up a system that just is failing ordinary working people in the country.
One of the reasons we believe and feel so confident about our chances here — and don't get me wrong, we can't let up these last 10 days — we feel confident because you can feel and sense the momentum all across the state. The sizes of our crows, wherever we may go — our internal numbers show a small lead, and although there's a fund- raising disadvantage in other parts of the country, we've been very blessed here. We've been able to compete with our Republican component, even though he's put $3 million of his own money into the race. I've not been able to do that. We've been blessed to have good supporters.
WALLACE: Congressman, you voted for the Iraq war. You're pro-life. You voted to ban gay marriage and flag burning. If a Democrat who votes as a conservative on guns, gays and God can't win this year, in Tennessee, does any Democrat ever chance in a red Southern state?
FORD: Well, that's why we're going to win, to prove that one, to prove that right. I think the other issue that my opponent has is that he's wrong on taxes. He's never, ever cut a tax in his entire life, not as mayor of Chattanooga or as finance commissioner for our former governor, Don Sundquist, who actually introduced a state income tax.
The two issues nationally Republicans are running on, terrorism and taxes, they regrettably on their part have a candidate who's bad on both of those issues. That's why we find ourselves in a position to win, among other things.
WALLACE: Let's talk about that Republican National Committee ad that ran this week and got so much attention. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(UNKNOWN): I met Harold at the Playboy party. Harold, call me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Congressman, Bob Corker also ran a radio at in which when they talk about you they have drums beating, and, when they talk about him, they have a symphonic choir singing and playing. Are Republicans playing the race card in Tennessee, or is that too politically explosive for you to talk about?
FORD: You'd probably have to ask Bob Corker and the Republican National Committee. I do know this. The first ad you showed was a piece of smut, and they should not have run that here. I don't know what would make Ken Mehlman or any national Republican believe that we in Tennessee would want to see something like that.
WALLACE: Why do you think it was a piece of smut, sir?
FORD: A woman bare, looking as if she was naked from her shoulders down and saying, "Cal me, I met you at a Playboy party," it's just unnecessary, out of line. And Tennesseans rejected it.
This other ad, this radio ad, I don't bother to listen to a whole lot of what my opponent runs, but if, indeed, your characterization is true, he should explain what he's trying to do in that ad. I can't quite figure it out myself.
WALLACE: Do you think the fact that she was a white woman was coincidental?
FORD: No, I think it was smut. I don't think race had anything to do with that ad. I just think it was an uncalled-for, despicable, inappropriate ad for children to be watching at 7 and 8 o'clock Central Time with their parents after dinner in the living room. They know it was bad. The party of family values should not have run that in Tennessee, or anywhere, for that matter.
WALLACE: Congressman, there is something in political science known as the 15 percent lie, and that is the fact, the established fact, that blacks, especially blacks running in Southern states, tend to do better, about 10 or 15 points better, in public opinion polls than they do when people go behind the voting curtain and actually vote on Election Day. Now, it happened to Harvey Gantt, when he was running for the Senate in North Carolina. It happened to Doug Wilder when he was running for governor in Virginia. Why won't it happen to Harold Ford in Tennessee?
FORD: Well, Mr. Wallace, we'll have to see, but I've got a lot of trust and confidence in the voters in Tennessee. They're sick of this war. They're sick of a Republican Congress that can't fix their borders. They're sick of a Republican Senate that has allowed health premiums to continue to go up. And they're sick of the White House, the Congress and the Senate for not doing better by just working people. They could raise the minimum wage and do a whole bunch of other things to make this country stronger.
We'll have to wait and see, but I'll tell you this, if their National Republican Committee believed what you just said, they wouldn't be running these awful, despicable, inhumane ads in my space. They know that we've got a chance to win this, and, come November 7th, Tennesseans will speak loud and clear. It's time for a new day in Tennessee and a new day in America.
WALLACE: Congressman, as we've said, you vote pretty conservative for a Democrat, but the fact is that if you win and if you're part of a Democratic takeover of the Senate, that means that Harry Ford becomes the Senate majority — Harry Reid, rather, becomes the Senate majority leader, Ted Kennedy becomes a committee chair, so does Joe Biden. Doesn't a Ford victory as part of a Democratic takeover, doesn't that end up helping liberals?
FORD: What Tennesseans will get will be a Jesus-loving, gun- supporting believer that families should come first, that taxes should be lower and America should be strong. When Tennesseans send us to the Senate, that's what they'll get in my votes and that's what they'll get in the kind of leadership that we have not had in the Senate over the last six years.
I know there's going to be an effort to scare people, but you cannot scare people to be inspired. You cannot scare people to do good and important things. I say to the national Republican Party, that message has run out of gas here in Tennessee. We know we are better than that as a country, and Tennesseans are ready to vote for something better and stronger and more positive than that.
WALLACE: Congressman Ford, we're going to have to leave it there. We want to thank you so much for joining us today.
FORD: Thank you, sir. I'm glad you U.T. beat South Carolina last night, too.
This week: We'll have an exclusive interview with Sen James Lankford (R-OK), member of the Appropriations, Homeland Security and Intelligence Committees.