In his still unofficial Senate campaign, former Tennessee Congressman Harold Ford Jr. called his likely rival Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand a "parakeet" and blasted her for her ties to high-ranking Democrats. Ford — who once donated money to Gillibrand's campaign — lashed out against the Senator in an interview with Fred Dicker, noting that candidates need "to be more independent" and "understand that you're not elected to the United States Senate to be a parakeet or to take instructions from the Democratic leadership."

The harsh words come as the 39-year-old continues to consider launching a full-fledged campaign against Gillibrand. He has already taken time off of his Wall Street job, launched his Twitter account, interviewed with and written for several papers, and met with a party boss who might be able to help him overcome the widespread Democratic opposition against his possible candidacy. Today, he penned an op-ed in the Times urging Democrats to "Get Down to Business" and repair the economy by creating jobs, cutting taxes and reducing the deficit — "a proposition that has some scratching their heads," according to the Atlantic. In a further sign he is seriously considering running, the Post reports that Ford will soon establish an exploratory committee so as to comply with campaign regulations because he would "rather be inconvenienced than indicted."

Ford seems to be making "independence" his main issue, noting that both Sen. Chuck Schumer and Gillibrand — who he accused of running a "schmear" campaign against him — "ought to be more independent," the Observer reports. But Gillibrand's campaign claims that Ford is anything but independent. "Harold Ford grew up in Washington, spent over a decade in Congress after he inherited his father's Tennessee Congressional seat, and now makes millions as a Wall Street vice chairman," said a Gillibrand adviser. "The notion that he is independent is completely contrived."