This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," June 28, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.
JOHN GIBSON, HOST: Yesterday we spoke with the only Democratic candidate in what is now a pretty nasty race in Tennessee for the U.S. Senate seat. We asked Congressman Harold Ford Jr. about some comments he made about his three opponents. The state Republican Party has even asked him to apologize for what he said, but here's what he told us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIBSON: Are you going to apologize?
REP. HAROLD FORD JR., D-TENN.: Apologize for what?
GIBSON: Calling the three guys "The Three Stooges"?
FORD: Look, the horrible things they've said about me, that was probably the nice thing I said about the level of discourse among the three of them. The conversation and the debate they're having is beneath voters in our state. The awful and terrible things they're saying about one another reminds you of kindergarten.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIBSON: Joining us now with his reaction to this is one of the Republican contenders, former Tennessee congressman Ed Bryant.
Congressman, this is being characterized as one of the nastiest — earliest, nastiest races. Why do you think it has become that?
FMR CONGRESSMAN ED BRYANT, R-TENN.: Well, good afternoon John. Certainly it is a spirited contest we have in Tennessee and our primary, but I think we have to first acknowledge that Congressman Ford's remarks yesterday are an example of a young man who is certainly eager to go over to the Senate, perhaps a little too eager to go there. Clearly if he's interested in a higher discourse of debate in this campaign, he is not going down the right track talking about "The Three Stooges."
But we are talking about the issues in this race and issues of pro-life and immigration. I've got Tennessee Right to Life endorsement and the American Council for Immigration Reform's endorsement. So, we're pleased to be there. I suppose with Congressman Ford's record he's talking about other things.
GIBSON: Congressman, I couldn't help but notice you refer to a young man wanting to go over to the Senate. Are you inferring he's too young and not yet qualified for the Senate?
BRYANT: Well certainly, a senator, our forefathers felt would be a person of stature and experience, seasoned with life experience. I think the type of comments about alluding to "The Three Stooges" is certainly not representative of the type of stature we would see in the United States Senate.
GIBSON: Congressman, the other question I asked him generally is we usually get the brass knuckles out sometime after Labor Day. Here we are before the fourth of July. It appears it has gotten rough and tumble already. Why so, as you put it, spirited so early?
BRYANT: Well, I was in Washington when 9/11 occurred and I think America changed forever that day. These are serious times, not business as usual. That's why we have to ensure that as we send people to Washington to be in these very important positions, the United States senator from Tennessee, that we ensure that we have experienced real conservatives, economic social conservatives and not people who are simply conservative out of convenience because it's election year. We're talking about those very issues.
GIBSON: Former Tennessee Congressman Ed Bryant, a Republican running for the U.S. senate seat in Tennessee.
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