March 24, 2002

THE MOST DANGEROUS MAN IN AMERICA :

Ford stopped for light, but he's running (Susan Adler Thorp, March 24, 2002, Memphis Commercial Appeal)
There's no need to ask Harold Ford Jr. whether he plans to run for the U.S. Senate in 2006, when Bill Frist is expected to vacate his seat. The Memphis congressman will give you one of two well-rehearsed answers.

One has to do with Tennessee's need for a new kind of leadership, by which Ford means he is young and energetic and the state's Democratic establishment is aging and stuffy.

The other answer is that the thought of running for the Senate motivates Ford, since moving from the House to the Senate would give him more national exposure and take him one step closer to his ultimate goal, the White House.
Until now, through the functioning of the "Only Nixon Can Go to China" Rule, it has been the paradoxical case that the only black politicians whom it was possible to imagine reaching the White House were all Republicans : JC Watts, Colin Powell, Condi Rice, etc. But Harold Ford Jr. is a Republican's worst nightmare : a relatively conservative black Democrat. Every time I've seen him speak he's been fair, reasonable, and respectful of other opinions. These qualities are unusual enough in a modern Democrat, but unheard of in a black Democrat.

Running statewide in TN will force him to stake out positions that are well to the right of the national Democrat Party, potentially making him kind of a black Sam Nunn or Al Gore ('92 version, not '00 mutation). It's way to early to know whether he could win statewide, let alone do well in Democrat presidential primaries, but it's easy to see him as a VP pick down the line. If the GOP is smart, they'll offer him a cabinet post in '05 and try to bring him into the fold (a la John Connally, Jeane Kirkpatrick, and Bill Bennett).

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 24, 2002 10:05 AM
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