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.)
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