Harold Ford, Jr., the former Tennessee Democratic Congressman whose non-run for US Senate in New York ushered in the definitive return of the word “carpetbagger” to American political vernacular, appeared on Morning Joe today to reiterate his reasons for not running and expand upon the comments he made in the New York Times op-ed published yesterday announcing his decision not to run. The short version is that he is such a party loyalist that he wants nothing less than a Democratic victory in New York, and while he believes he could have won the primary, it would have been such a tough race that the Republican candidate would have cruised to victory in November. He was surprisingly laid back, believable, and, with a supportive Joe Scarborough on his side, confident. Which begs the question: where was this Harold Ford for the past three months?
For the past two months or so, all the mainstream media was able to get out of Ford were severely economically detached quotes like “I landed there in a helicopter once” in response to being asked whether he had ever visited Staten Island and a messy collection of stories about whether or not he has ever paid property taxes in New York. Today, with the pressure off, Ford finally sounded for the first time like a legitimate candidate, a day after stating more believably than ever that he “refuse[s] to do anything that would help Republicans win a Senate seat in New York, and give the Senate majority to the Republicans.”
Sure, he couldn’t go an entire interview without saying something mildly out-of-touch (“I wish we could all be millionaires… that would’ve been part of my platform”), but, on the whole, this did not look like a man whose political career was just destroyed by a Gawker blogger. “We have not only a leadership void in Washington and Albany, but I think across all political circles,” he said, and finally defended his changes in views in a concrete way – by pointing out that all politicians flip-flop, all the time. “It’s just like there are Senators who are evolving on health care and evolving on the jobs bill,” he argued. “Do we say ‘no, we don’t want you because last week you weren’t in support of it?’ Of course not! We embrace them.”
Joe Scarborough, who has been similarly attacked by his own side of the political aisle for being too moderate, backed him up: “You have been branded as some right-wing nut by the Democratic establishment. Maybe that explains why they’re doing so poorly now across America.”
Watch the segment below:
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