After a week of widespread Democratic opposition against his proposed Senate campaign, former Tennessee Congressman Harold Ford Jr. launched his own publicity tour, which got really interesting when he sat down with the Times for a lengthy interview yesterday. There are gems throughout the far-reaching Q and A, but it's likely that no part of it will be as closely scrutinized as his statements on gay marriage — which he twice voted to ban:
The last three years, think about what has transpired. How many states have either courts and or legislatures that have declared same-sex marriage is acceptable in their states? There has been a robust debate. I don’t think it’s a great leap to go from civil unions to gay marriage — I may be in the minority in believing that.
The 39-year-old politician also attempted to clarify his position on abortion after a pro-choice group sent out a video in which he characterizes himself as pro-life. "To say that I am pro life is just wrong. I am personally pro-choice and legislatively pro-choice," said Ford, who has voted to ban partial-birth abortion and require parental consent for minors seeking abortions. In the interview, Ford claimed he is better suited to improve the economy and create jobs than Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand — to whom he actually donated cash shortly after she took office on the request of a mutual lobbyist friend. Ford also said he supports healthcare reform (though he would vote against the current bill) and hopes to expand gun control (though he is a member of the NRA and opposes legislation that would force gun owners to keep their guns disassembled and unloaded).
Gawker makes the case that Ford isn't a man of the people, arguing the interview proves he "has not left his bubble of town cars-to-MSNBC and billionaire Democratic donor friends for six years." Considering that his only visit to Staten Island came when he "landed there in a helicopter," and that he favors the Giants over the Jets because he is closer friends with the Giants co-owner Steve Tisch than he is with Jets owner Woody Johnson, they might have a point. Ford also confessed that although he has said he has lived in New York for the past three years, he was really splitting time between the city and Nashville until he officially moved here last year, because "moved is such a legal term."
The interview might have helped Ford win over Gov. David Paterson, who after initially saying the Tennessee politician "might look for another state to run a primary," stated today that he should run, according to the Times. Though Paterson said he would continue to support Gillibrand — who he appointed amidst much criticism — he noted that “New York does have, has had, a tradition of allowing out-of-staters to come out and represent us. And if he thinks that he’s worthy of that, he should take on Sen. Gillibrand in a primary.”