Oct 10 2006
08:33 pm

Hope everyone saw the debate. This was not the Ford that showed up in Memphis. This was the Harold Ford Jr. who has a command of the facts, can talk intelligently about anything from foreign policy to education to health care and back it up, and who delivers it in a confident and forthright manner.

Ford had Corker on the ropes early, delivering body blow after upper cut after body blow, nailing Corker on lie after flip-flop after lie. Corker was reeling, checking his watch to see when the round would be over, and casting plaintive looks at his corner man.

I may have more commentary and analysis and bad sports metaphors later unless someone beats me to it, but here are a few things that jumped out at me...

In his opening remarks, Corker backed off his false claim that he "reduced violent crime by 51%" as Mayor of Chattanooga. He now claims that he reduced violent crime "tremendously."

Corker's attempts to paint Ford as a D.C. insider backfired miserably. All Corker managed to do was tee up a big home run for Ford. Time and again, Ford used it as an opportunity to highlight his accomplishments in Congress as a member of the minority party, all the prominent people in Congress he's worked with, all the bi-partisan legislation he's worked on, and all of the things he's done for the people of the 9th District. In comparison, Corker sounded like he just fell off the turnip truck and would need the help of several pages to even find his way to the Senate floor.

Ford is clearly more experienced and knowledgeable about foreign policy, the war in Iraq, and the situation in North Korea. He offered new ideas and approaches, and noted that Corker's party has "stayed the course" for three years now and it isn't working. Ford noted that Corker said he would defer to the commanders on the ground, but pointed out that six generals returning from combat in Iraq have called for Rumsfeld's resignation. Ford pointed out that the Republican leadership and even James Baker acknowledge serious problems in Iraq, but condemned Corker's party for withholding their latest "secret plan" until after the election. Corker had no answer other than offering up new and varying interpretations of what he really meant when he said "stay the course" last week, last month, and during the primary.

Ford nailed Corker on his illegal immigration hypocrisy, pointing out that Corker had been busted for having illegals on a Memphis work site. Corker said it was a long time ago, and that it wasn't him it was a sub-contractor. Ford asked why he didn't fire them. Corker tried to lecture Ford, asking if he'd been to law school why didn't he understand contracts? You can't just fire people when you have a contract. Apparently, Corker has been in business a long time yet has never heard the term "breach of contract." Surely illegal activity such as what went on at Corker's work site would constitute a breach of contract. Maybe Corker needs better lawyers. Corker also claimed the INS applauded his quick action. Ford reminded him that he was warned three times by the INS before they took action.

Corker again stated the claim, twice, that his campaign manager, Jimmy Haslam, is the largest seller of ethanol and biodiesel in the U.S. and that Haslam is just a lil' ol' retailer and has nothing to do with big oil, gas prices or drilling. It is clearly established that Haslam's company, Pilot Oil, DOES NOT SELL ethanol or biodiesel. Some travel center and truck stop outlets operated by a joint venture between Pilot and Marathon Oil, a huge, $64 billion U.S. oil company involved in exploration and drilling, do sell ethanol and biodiesel, so maybe that's what Corker is talking about. But he can't have it both ways. Either Haslam is involved with a large U.S. oil company, i.e. big oil, or he's a gas/beer/cig/lotto retailer who doesn't sell ethanol or biodiesel. Which is it Mr. Corker?

There was more. On education, health care, and lots more. Including a low blow re. Ford's father by Corker, which Ford answered with a stinging left hook about gutter politics.

In short, Ford came out swinging, never let up, and won this debate on every scorecard.

UPDATE: The Ford Report has more fact checking.

UPDATE: In case you missed it, here is the WATE video archive of the full debate.

UPDATE: Kleinheider has a pretty good analysis of the debate. (See comments there for a couple of my clarifications to his post.)

Moderate Matt's picture


Hey Randy, can you point me in the direction of some sources that either confirm or deny the fact that Pilot sells ethanol or biodiesel. I know that the East Tennessee Clean Fuels Coalition doesn't list any Pilot stations as Bio-diesel retailers, but I don't know about ethanol.

I know I can run down to the Pilot on Broadway here in Knoxville and they boast "Up to 10% ethanol", but I can't confirm or deny it.

R. Neal's picture

I asked Pilot about

I asked Pilot about biodiesel. They said none of their outlets in TN sell it. They didn't answer my question about where else it might be available. The News Sentinel reported that Pilot no longer sells ethanol blends, but had sold it in the last 12 months.

redmondkr's picture

There is a possibility that

There is a possibility that the stickers are just old, dating from the time when they did sell an ethanol blend.  If the sticker says "up to 10% ethanol", that would include anything from 0% to 10% ethanol.

Bbeanster's picture

82 percent of WATE viewers

say Ford won this debate.

I'd channel Larry Munsen and say that Junior stepped on his face with a hobnail boot tonight.

Chuck Dhue's picture

Ford wins by TKO? Give me a

Ford wins by TKO? Give me a break. He was trying all he could to distance himself from Nancy Pelosi.

Andy Axel's picture

And Corker scored with what

And Corker scored with what now?


Forget patriotism. Instapundit.com is the last refuge of scoundrels.

Rachel's picture

He was trying all he could

He was trying all he could to distance himself from Nancy Pelosi.

a)  I'd say he did a pretty damn good job.

b) Most Tennesseans don't have a clue who Nancy Pelosi is anyway.

Mark Siegel's picture

Unless I'm wrong, Ford distanced himself from Pelosi

by running against her for the party leadership post in 2004.

It's hard to get any more separation with another office holder than to run against them.

Rachel's picture

He was trying all he could

He was trying all he could to distance himself from Nancy Pelosi.

a)  I'd say he did a pretty damn good job.

b) Most Tennesseans don't have a clue who Nancy Pelosi is anyway.

CBT's picture

The question I have is who

The question I have is who watches these things other than those who are just looking to see how their candidate performed? I don't know if you can get any sort of accurate poll. I doubt many undecided people sat and watched the whole thing. They may read the papers tomorrow and watch the TV news reports...maybe.

I thought Corker did well, but I like Corker's background (businessman, public service) and don't like Junior's (liberal voting record, corupt political family). Those who like Junior will tout (as Randy has above) his supposed victories and scored points. I'm sure if you read some conservative blogs they will make point up Corker's strong points.

In the end, I don't think these debates do much other than energize the supporters of each candidate...and give them something to talk about. This race is close. Those who are undecided at this point, I think break for Corker over the next four weeks. Guess we'll see.

Bbeanster's picture

What are you smoking,

What are you smoking, Tindell?
WATE doesn't call that survey a poll, and makes no claim that it's scientific. Go ahead and spin it however you want, but the fact is that 82 percent of the people who responded on a Knoxville website in the heart of what should be Corker country think Ford kicked Corker's butt up around his ears. That doesn't bode well for Corker, who seemed to shrink as the minutes ticked by.
And if I were a Corker supporter, I wouldn't push that family pedal so damn hard, either. The Corkers aren't exactly the Walton family, and I'm not just talking about Julia Corker's Bush Twin-esque Facebook stuff, either.

Eleanor A's picture

Go, BB!

Meanwhile, I'm noticing that more Ford supporters than Corker turned up at the pre-debate rally (in Corker's hometown), and the Chattanooga police have endorsed Ford.

Do I hear the fat lady practicing her scales...?

Toad In The Hole's picture

Corker's Campaign Is Now Referrendum on Pilot Oil - Haslam Clout

By injecting Pilot Oil and Jimmy Haslam directly into the heart of the Corker campaign, particularly in a Chattanooga debate, the race has become a referrendum on Pilot Oil, the big signs in their stations you can't see around, high gas prices, the Haslam clout in Tennessee (just how many people have they elected to statewide office, anyway?, Republican bullying tactics (which don't work well statewide, anyway)exclusive participation in the Corker campaign, perceived aloofness in the Corker campaign heirachy. I think the peasants are carrying pitchforks and they're pulling that Jr. lever.

I'm waiting on Jr. to question the sanity of any man that would appoint Victor Ashe to a position in which he represents the United States of America or support Victor Ashe in any way. It's coming.

Seriously, Corker appeared prepared for a debate in the Republican primary in which his surrogates had strong armed the bulk of the Republican supporters, however, he did not appear prepared for a debate in a general election for the U.S. Senate. He really appeared not ready for prime time and a rank amateur at best.

The Ford landslide is coming and it won't be a pretty site, although of the Republican Senate seats up for grabs, Corker's campaign has been a sorry excuse for a legitimate statewide effort.

CBT's picture

Bean, I didn't see your

Bean, I didn't see your comment on the WATE poll (note the 2 minute posting time difference). My comment wasn't directed at the WATE poll. I do know online polls can be manipulated by just making sure your people vote in the poll. My guess is emails were circulating to drive supporters to the site.

I still maintain that few undecideds actually sit down and watch these debates. Many are at soccer and football practice at 7:00 p.m. You'll also notice there were even empty seats in the small auditorium. These things just fire up supporters to pick apart the other side and give campaigns fodder. Some spin and news stories might make some difference. If they were on all three channels and cable news (like Pres. debates) more would watch. But, a lot of folks were probably just peeved that Wheel of Fortune got pre-empted.

rikki's picture

soothing pablum lullaby

who watches these things other than those who are just looking to see how their candidate performed?

Chad Tindell, Champion of the Uninformed!

This is what being a Republican has devolved to, loyalty to ignorance and apple-pie pablum, promoting the void of complacency, dodging discussion.

The Republican base is sleepwalking, which makes them easy to manipulate. The danger is that they might wake up. Chad runs from real discussions not because he is too busy to get informed, but because remaining uninformed is the whole point of being a Republican. Ignorance is bliss. Wealth is virtue. Knowledge is dangerous. Submission is liberation.

Shhhhhh, there are lawyers trying to look busy and soccer moms picking their kids up from practice. Don't wake them! 

CBT's picture

A legitimate observation

A legitimate observation turned into a personal attack. I won't bite and return the favor.

rikki's picture

When Corker brought up

When Corker brought up Ford's father being a Fannie Mae lobbyist, that was not a personal attack on the Ford family, but a legitimate observation. Ford's response was inappropriate.

Likewise, my post is not a personal attack against you, but a legitimate observation about low-information Republican voters. Limbaugh and Fox News put a lot of effort into maintaining a bubble for low-information voters. They are Rove's specialty, and you're in on the game too. Cultivating low-information voters is a winning strategy for Republicans. If you feel being identified with that strategy constitutes an attack, it's probably your guilty conscience making you feel that way moreso than my words.

JaHu's picture

When Corker brought up

When Corker brought up Ford's father being a Fannie Mae lobbyist, that was not a personal attack on the Ford family, but a legitimate observation.

Didn't Republican Victor Ashe have something to do with Fannie Mae? Something isn't adding up!

Factchecker's picture

No, not genteel CBT

A legitimate observation turned into a personal attack. I won't bite and return the favor.

Except when you freely launch personal attacks on Democrats, as you just did by smearing Ford as somehow being guilty by association to family members he has no control over.

Funny, mainstream Republicans pull this shit all the time, but you rarely hear even the most shrill liberals challenge the integrity of Republican politicians based on the behavior of their progeny, who have been influenced by these politicians.  E.g., the Bush twins, the Corker kid(s), Frist's pathetic son, Neil's and Jeb's kids, et. al.   

Eleanor A's picture

Hm. You'd have to figure

that if Corker had won last night's debate, as opposed to having his ass soundly kicked, CBT would claim everyone in the state had blown off their to-do list to sit down and watch it.

I just got to watch the full debate, having TiVo'd it - Wow. There is just no contest. I still think Ford will be hurt by his race (this being the South), but amongst right-thinking folks, he'll win in a landslide.

gttim's picture


I ... don't like Junior's (liberal voting record, corupt political family).

Since Ford is anything but a liberal, how can you even suggest he has a liberal voting record.

  1. Voted for the war.
  1. Voted for Constitutional Ammendment against flag burning.
  1. Favored Constitutional Amendment against gay mairrage.
  1. Voted for Patriot Act
  1. Voted with GOP for torture and rejecting 800 years of Habeaus Corpus.

What part of his voting record am I missing? At least make an effort to spin effectively.

Jim Smith's picture

Bbeanster is partly correct.

Bbeanster is partly correct. WATE did call it a poll, but never claimed it was a scientific survey.

It is a sampling of public opinion expressed by people who visited our site, which can include people who are not in the WATE viewing area and may not have viewed the debate.

Use it as you will, but it shouldn't be relied upon for the purposes of wagering.

Rob Huddleston's picture

Uh, sure Ford won...

Bubba -

I guess you see what you want to see, which, ironically, seems to make one blind to reality.



R. Neal's picture

Seems like 80% of viewers in

Seems like 80% of viewers in East Tennessee (Knoxville and Chattanooga) agree, according to the TV station surveys. I guess we're all blind to reality?

skirob's picture

I think it's them that have

I think it's them that have been blind to reality for, oh, at least 5 years.

Stooks's picture

News Sentinal Spinning Corkers Words?

Is it me or did the News Sentinal put a spin on what Corkers response was to the question concerning immigration?

The Sentinal writes that Corker "favors building a fence between Mexico and the United States to stem illegal immigration".

Yet the Chattanooga Free Press says Corkers response was that "everything should be done to stop illegal immigration and that there are various technologies to accomplish this task".

I watched the debate and to my knowledge Corker never said he was in favor of building a fence. He did mention "new technologies" and about being in Isreal and seeing their techniques for border security.

Anyone else catch this or am I just wrong?

R. Neal's picture

I don't think Corker ever

I don't think Corker ever actually said he favors a fence. He mentioned being at a fence, and talking to locals, etc., and he talked all around the question, but didn't answer it directly.

zilla's picture


I think Corker said he would be against building a fence around West Knoxville. But I can't say for sure I heard that.

Colorado Republican Activist's picture

For one Harold Ford Jr, I'll trade you .....

I caught the replay on CSPAN Tuesday night. I have to agree Ford won the debate. Corker's "ah shucks, good 'ol boy Tennessee Hillbilly" routine is pathethic for someone who want's to be a U.S. Senator. Ford may be a bit too smooth at times, bit Corker can tend to come off as not too bright. I want my Senator to be intelligent, well briefed, quick on their feet, and capable of recognizing a good idea on the other side of the aisle and capable of making it a great idea on their side of the aisle. I think Ford has that ability. I'd trade you two Wayne Allards for one Harold Ford Jr. I know it would take more than two to be a fair trade, but you can only have two Senators. Sorry.
Anonymous's picture

Laughable analysis

This analysis of the debate is so laughabley one-sided and biased, I can hardly believe that it was actually published. To suggest that the 36-year old Ford was 'more experienced' is ridiculous. Get real.

Eleanor A's picture

"Get real," says the

"Get real," says the scaredy-cat right winger afraid to even use an alias...

Factchecker's picture


At least this troll is literate, so rare to find.  No, check that.

Stacey's picture


Ford did great on all of this morning's shows,just tore it up, especially This Week, Corker seemed to be stumbling around.

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