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Ford notifies media of 'Waltz' reference
Feb 17, 2006 12:00 am
February 15, 2006
POLITICAL NOTEBOOK: Just days after they appeared cordial and even respectful in a public candidates forum, Congressman Harold Ford Jr. is accusing a former House colleague and his likely fall opponent in the U.S. Senate race of making Ford's troubled family an issue in the race.
Ford penned a letter Tuesday to former Congressman and Republican Senate candidate Van Hilleary questioning why a Hilleary campaign press release invoked the word "waltz."
Ford appeared to take the use of the word in a press release by Hilleary on Ford's abortion and tax positions to be a veiled reference to the Tennessee Waltz Investigation, where Ford uncle and former State Sen. John Ford was indicted in federal court.
"I am writing to bring to your attention (to) an article from the February 11th edition of the Chattanooga Times-Free Press that mentioned a press release you sent out last week that stated, 'Harold Ford Jr. Should Not Waltz Around His Record,'" Ford wrote. "We served in Congress together for six years.
"We were friends and colleagues who worked hard to advance the interests of our constituents and our state. You know my record. Therefore, I was surprised when I learned that your campaign sent out a document that attempts to distract the voters from the real issues in the campaign.
"This election is not about my extended family," Ford added. "It's about Tennessee's families."
The letter and release that precipitated it underlines an obvious storyline in the upcoming race, a possible matchup between Ford who is the prohibitive Democratic nominee and Hilleary who by all rights should statistically be the GOP frontrunner. The two former House colleagues despite ideological differences appear to actually like one another when they are in public together.
Hilleary campaign manager Jennifer Coxe responded with a simple "no" when asked if the release and use of the word waltz was a reference to the federal probe.
"Is it that Harold Ford has not read the release or is it that he can't defend his liberal record," Cox said. "The release was a substantive criticism of his record on abortion and taxes."
Ford's campaign declined to comment on the letter when reached Tuesday, though it was sent to the Associated Press and Chattanooga's daily newspaper.