Rep. Harold Ford, D-Tenn.

This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, August 12, 2002, that was edited for clarity. Click here for complete access to all of Neil Cavuto's CEO interviews.

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BRENDA BUTTNER, GUEST HOST: One thing the Bush administration's economic forum will not include, Democratic leaders. And one guy who's not too happy about this is Tennessee Congressman Harold Ford, Jr. He joins me now from Elvis country. Congressman, welcome.

REP. HAROLD FORD (D), TENNESSEE: Good afternoon. Thanks for having me on.

BUTTNER: Well, what is the problem?

FORD: Well, I think the real problem is not necessarily with Democrats. But I think what most Americans are hoping will come out of the forum, which I support the president in doing, in calling for, is a very frank and open discussion about everything from revenue, projections, spending priorities, and even deficits in the long-term approach.

As you well know, some of our fundamentals are strong, others are not. It was my hope that the president would take this golden opportunity as the leader of this country, and for that matter the free world, to convene a group of business and academic and other leaders to talk at great length and with a serious approach and a nonpartisan approach about some of the issues that confront this economy and the kinds of things that we in the Congress and government as a whole, frankly, should be focused on and what the business community should be focused on.

BUTTNER: Well, actually...

FORD: Now I am just not certain -- I did not mean to cut you off -- but I am just not certain that this conference will be conclusive enough, and it smells as if a little more politics was involved than there perhaps should be.

BUTTNER: Well, but they are not trying to put politics in it. There is Democrats invited, they're ordinary Democrats however. They just do not want to have this as a kind of finger-pointing Congress versus the White House. This is a chance to actually get down and get to work.

FORD: Sure, I was not expecting an invitation. But I think there were a number of business and academic leaders who have been outspoken on business ethics and corporate responsibility, those who, frankly, have no ties or obvious connections to either parties. Without a doubt, there is nothing wrong with inviting Democrats and/or Republicans. But it appears from some of the things that many of us have read, including some of the accounts of major newspapers all across the country, that political and perhaps donor specifications were cited as perhaps reasons. And it is my hope that I am completely wrong. But the facts at this point do not bear me out. However...

BUTTNER: Wait. A lot of the participants actually paid their own way. This is not taxpayer money.

FORD: I am not suggesting that at all, but these are people who have given. If this was a Democratic group, and the Democratic president invited many of his donors and close political friends, I would be critical of it too. So...

BUTTNER: Just like Bill Clinton did in Little Rock, where 50 percent of them all participated and had given him money.

FORD: That was wrong too. Two wrongs don't make a right. I learned that when I was seven. And the think that the president, in light of the current crisis of confidence in our markets, in light of the economy's precarious state, again, some fundamentals are strong and others simply are not. I just thought it would be more useful for us in the Congress and, for that matter, the nation to hear from a broad sort of a cross-section of viewpoints.

And you have a copy of the roster of some of those participating, at least those that they have printed. And I understand that they have invited some members from unions, but that does not satisfy me. What would satisfy me is what would satisfy my constituents. I have been home since the break started, early August. People are talking about their jobs and health security and their 401(K)s.

BUTTNER: It's clearly something to take seriously, and I think that's why the president is probably having the forum, but let's not judge it before it happens. So, we'll watch.

FORD: By no means. But I think it is only appropriate to wonder aloud about the kinds of voices and the broad cross-section of voices that might not be heard.

BUTTNER: I'm sorry, sir, to cut you off. But thank you very much.

FORD: Thanks for having me.

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