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Senior on the Stump

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(Following is the transcript of remarks made by former congressman Harold Ford Sr. on behalf of his two candidate sons, U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Jr., who is running for the U.S. Senate, and Jake Ford, a candidate for the 9th District congressional seat which Ford Jr., and his father before him, have occupied since the election of 1974.

This speech, one of three made by the former congressman on Saturday, was to an audience in a tent erected in the 4400 block of Summer Avenue. They had been drawn, like the crowds at two other locations in Memphis, by robo-calls advertising a Harold Ford Jr. rally.

After the crowd, mixed by age, race, and gender, had been served a chicken dinner from a steam table, Ford Sr. arrived to a warm welcome. He spent several minutes in a handshaking tour of the tent, then stood before the crowd and delivered the following remarks. Crowd response was animated throughout, making some portions of the speech hard to understand.)

Thank you very much. Mrs. King, would you come up. I want to thank all of you for coming out, and, Mrs. King, I want to thank you for working with us to get all of this organized, and I want to yield to you right now, Mrs. King, because you might want to speak to them, in Spanish, as I can not, if you want to give a welcome on behalf of Harold Ford Jr., if you don’t mind.

(Mrs. Rosolva King, wife of former state Rep. Alvin King, speaks to crowd in Spanish.)

Thank you, Mrs. King. Thank you very much. You know, let me … uh, I’m going to be very brief. I apologize for being late. But this is my third gathering like this today. I was over at the Northgate Shopping Center earlier, then had to drive out to Orange Mound on Lamar, and when I leave here I’m on my way to Brownsville for another affair.

I apologize on behalf of Harold Ford Jr., who’s going to be your next United States Senator. (Crowd cheers.)

Let me apologize on his behalf. He got up this morning in Chattanooga, then he flew to Nashville to cut some TV spots for tomorrow, then he goes back to Nashville. He’s been [inaudible] around in counties in Nashville. The tracking polls from yesterday, this morning, the poll numbers are looking good. It’s close, but he’s gonna win it. He’s gonna win this election! (More crowd cheers.)

All of the projections and all of the poll numbers are showing that the next United States senator, if we go to the polls, starting October 18th, which is Wednesday of this week, that Harold Ford will be elected as the next United States senator! (renewed cheers)

You know, I have watched, as you have watched, this campaign unfold over the last 14 to 16 months, really over the last three years, and Harold Jr. has had the same message, in Tri-Cities, Knoxville, Chattanooga, suburban areas of Nashville, Nashville, rural West Tennessee, and right here in Big Shelby!

And that message has resonated with voters throughout this state. And there are those on a national level who’ve said, ‘I cannot believe what’s getting ready to happen in Tennessee.’ You know, [inaudible] had to come down to see some reason to see this young man who has carried the issues right to the people of this state, and he said, ‘Now is the time for someone to stand up to George W. Bush and let him know he’s been wrong. And I believe [inaudible] that Harold Ford Jr. will stand for all of us in the United States Senate.

And I am asking you to please join with me in giving your prayers, because we need the strength, and we need to go out and vote, starting this Wednesday. Please do not wait until Election Day to go vote. There is no need of us doing that. And I would appreciate it very much if we give our attention to Harold Ford and go out in large numbers. It makes sure that in East Tennessee, across to McMinnville, Nashville, and across that Tennessee River, here in West Tennessee, we’re be ready to give him the victory that he deserves and he will have on Election Night. (applause)

And I apologize for being late, but you can imagine: He had 17 stops today. He was in Memphis yesterday for four, and he filmed ABC, the Stephanopolous program live here in Memphis yesterday morning. I think he’s coming here for a brief time tomorrow, a couple of hours, but he’s back and forth throughout the state. But we are tracking in every county. He’s visited all of the counties in the state, he has managers in all of the counties of the state, and the crowds are getting larger and larger and larger.

People are ready to go vote. They’re tired of where we’ve been for the last 12 years in Congress.

There was a time, years ago, when I would have Harold do things for me. Now he says, "Dad, go here and go there." I’m not complaining. I’m just happy to do it for him. And I really do appreciate it. I really do.

We’re going to be proud on November 7th. The nation and the world will look at Tennessee and say, “I cannot believe the South has given us someone that we all can be proud of. I know you will be proud of him. I’m his dad. I’m proud. But you will be proud He’s your son. He’s a product of this community. And you will be proud of him.

And, as I close, let me just say…I have to say this because there’s one person here who’s with one of the newspapers. You know, I have another son named Jake. And this newspaper never calls me. They don’t have the respect to call us. And this newspaper is talking about my son, Jake Ford. And, you know, I respect the newspaper. I don’t think they have any ill intention. I just think they just don’t know the facts.

The 9th Congressional District has had solid representation. And there have been those who’ve been talking about Jake Ford. But until they saw him on that debate on last Sunday, you wouldn’t have believed it if you’d been reading that certain newspaper in this town. I mean, here it is that when he was confronted with the crisis the other day about Jake being arrested –-he was a teenager, all of those things were dropped; he was never convicted of anything.

I mean, he was a teenager. And if someone would think that I’m not going to support my son Jake … I’m a proud papa! I’m a proud papa. If someone would tell me that Jake is running as an independent and I’m a Democrat, well, Jake is a Democrat. Jake couldn’t have been raised in my house unless he was a Democrat! And a person was saying, I want a real … Well, there ain’t no more real Democrat than me! Jake is a product of me. He’s a part of me. If you like what you had in the past, don’t give it up now!

His opposition won’t even come to the community and ask for their votes. He’ll run and put out pictures and put out press releases and try to distort my son. I’m asking all of you: Don’t let this man reject Jake Ford Jr (sic). Now, Jake Ford Jr. is the man that you need. And I promise you that Jake Ford Jr. – he don’t believe in no same-sex marriages! We’re from a Christian city here. He doesn’t believe in legalizing marijuana. This man that’s running against Jake wants some sex shops running in downtown Memphis on a Sunday! That’s our religious holiday. He shouldn’t be doing that and then saying he’s the most liberal Democrat. He is too liberal! I mean, paramutual betting. And this lottery! A lottery ain’t nothing but a tax on poor people. And why would you brag about lottery. And the very people that the lottery’s supposed to help are the very people that can’t go to college and benefit from it. So I say to you: Trust me, you trusted me as your congressman. We don’t know much about the other person. He missed 49 percent of his votes in 18 years in the state Senate.

And I’m asking you: when you go to that poll, don’t vote for no Steve Cohen. You vote for Jake Ford as your next congressman. [crowd noise, applause obscures most of the rest of his close] .. Thank you and God bless you!

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