This is a partial transcript from "On the Record" with Greta Van Susteren, July 28, 2004 that has been edited for clarity.
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SHEPARD SMITH, GUEST HOST: The Honorable Harold Ford, Jr. of Tennessee. Tonight, "Details" magazine is calling him the "next, next president of these United States."
Here's a quote from the August issue: "Thousands of handshakes and speeches have contributed to the snowballing perception of Ford," at the ripe old age of 34, "is one of the first real rock stars to emerge from the Democratic Party since Bill Clinton suckled a saxophone."
Congressman Ford joins us here. How are you doing?
REP. HAROLD FORD JR., D-TENN.: I'm good. How are you doing?
SMITH: I'm good.
The "next, next president," a boy from Memphis — how do you wear that label?
FORD: You don't. We are here to elect John Kerry.
SMITH: I know, I know. We got to talk about you first.
FORD: No, no.
SMITH: Just for a second.
FORD: I'm not even old enough to be in contention for the job they talked about.
SMITH: I know you're not.
FORD: I'm flattered, but…
SMITH: But they called you the "next, next." Where did they get that, and how do you know, Harold Ford, Jr. is not a novice at this. His whole family has been doing politics since was a kid. You own Tennessee, I mean, politically speaking; came from a family that owned funeral homes and knows everybody.
FORD: John Edwards spoke tonight; Barack Obama spoke last night…
SMITH: He was great, too.
FORD: …and Bill Clinton spoke the night before. Barack Obama was awesome. He inspired.
SMITH: OK, give me what you want to hear, and then we're going to talk.
FORD: John Edwards tonight, I think it's been said in the panel — it's good to say what was on the panel. Hope is on the way was the theme; he was positive in his tone. And I think, the way and the ease in which he talked about his faith and family and community, probably more than anything he said substantively, connects with people where you and I are from.
FORD: People appreciate that and they see the goodness in a person that way. Naturally, I agree with him. We should take care of all of our veterans, we should destroy Al Qaeda, we should invest in the military.
SMITH: Well, that's pretty easy.
FORD: We should double the size of it. We should cut taxes for companies that create jobs in America.
But there was an ease in which he presented it and the way his family came on stage with him, and again, just a comfort level that he had talking about his faith as something I think Americans in the Midwest and South connect with.
SMITH: They are trying to go for some of that moose country. The people who don't like it when George Bush talks about his faith, go one way, but the people who do, might take a look at John Edwards. Is that what you are saying?
FORD: Someone, you and I we were going to church every Sunday. We had rules in my house. If you ate breakfast, you had to go to church on Sunday.
SMITH: I hear that.
FORD: And he can connect with those voters, and there is no doubt, if Democrats are not able to reach out and connect with that voting populace, that voting block, we'll find ourselves a minority party for a long time.
John Edwards gives us a viable chance to reach voters all across the country whose faith is important to them.
SMITH: I've been reading the "Details" article. You're not in favor of gay marriage; you are for a moment of silent prayer in schools; you think that making it illegal to burn the American flag might not be a bad idea. Did you think about elephants or was it always donkeys? I mean, that sounds very elephant.
FORD: Look, I grew up a Democrat. I happen to think, these are the values of my party. We sometimes have them painted in ways that aren't true and oftentimes are distorted by those who want to beat us. But the Democrats I know and the Democrats I grew up around, went to church, they raised their kids the right way, they made their kids go to school and do their homework.
As was said so well last night, reading a book in my house was a good thing. And if we could get every parent to go back to that — black parents, white parents, Hispanic parents — and for those parents who teach their kids that all of us are created equal and that anyone can achieve and be what they want if they are willing to work hard and play by the rules, we'd have a much better, much safer.
SMITH: Why did Bill Cosby get credit for that? Because he started that? He started that way of thinking that in some black families it is not cool to be doing that; it's not cool to be educated — that's too white. And he got in trouble for that.
FORD: He didn't start it, but has the most high profile and, perhaps in the most inflammatory way, he has a lot of points in communities. He spent more money sending kids to college and contributing to big universities and historically black colleges, universities.
A lot of stuff he said was right on point. He probably said it a little harshly, but I hope people take the message.
It is not just black America should know that. It's political America, because if we had a different kind of pulse, a different set of policies in this country that fully funded education and health care — I don't want to get too far in this — if we really reached out to the world and asked them to be involved in Iraq, we'd free up money to not have to raise property taxes at the local level, the state level.
So we should all take a message from Bill Cosby. And I hope America listened closely tonight to John Edwards.
SMITH: Harold Ford, Jr. — good to see you, my man.
FORD: Good seeing you.
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