We ditched work this afternoon and went over to the Harold Ford Jr. rally/MSNBC Hardball broadcast from the U.T. campus. Then we went over to Congressman Jimmy Duncan's annual barbecue event at the Knoxville Civic Coliseum.
While waiting for Ford and MSNBC to get rolling, we ran in to Brandon Cook, the Blount County Democratic Chair. Matt from the Tennessee Progressive Report blog also came over to say hi. It was nice seeing both of them again.
At the U.T. Ford rally, Democratic Congressman Lincoln Davis from Tennessee's 4th district gave a rousing speech ("Democrats aren't going to go to Washington and take away your guns or your Bibles!"). He then introduced Harold Ford Jr. The crowd went wild.
Ford gave one of his trademark stump speeches to a crowd of nearly 400 by our estimates. He talked about Iraq, education, health care, and more. The crowd went wild.
Then Congressman Ford got wired up for his live interview with Norah O'Donnell on MSNB's Hardball. We Tivo'ed it, and as usual he nailed it. If you missed it, it will probably be available here.
Congressman Ford was asked about Corker's racist ads. He took the high ground and talked about issues. When pressed by Chris Matthews, Ford made an excellent point. He noted that Corker has said that he asked for the ads to be pulled. Ford was a little skeptical about that, but said that if Corker can't even get his own despicable RNC ad pulled from TV, what makes anyone think he will be able to accomplish anything in the United States Senate?
After the U.T. campus event, we headed over to Congressman Jimmy Duncan's annual barbecue. It was like walking into the belly of the beast, but every politician who wants to get elected in East Tennessee has to go through Jimmy Duncan's barbecue. Governor Phil Bredesen was there. Jim Bryson and his Big Bus were also there.
And who did we run into going down the stairs to the coliseum floor? None other than Harold Ford Jr. and Lincoln Davis. The Mrs. said she thought she saw Bob Corker there, but we looked around and never found him. We did run in to Schree Pettigrew, who was charming as usual. We were also quite pleased to meet Chad Tindell and his wife in person.
There must have been a couple of thousand people at the Duncan event. (Ed. note: This morning's paper says 5000 attended.) Norah O'Donnell is as pretty as she can be, but free food and East Tennessee tradition trumps pretty every time.
Lots of photos and some more commentary after the jump...
This guy was quite vocal. A Ford advance man came over and asked if he might be persuaded to trade his sign for a Ford sign. He wouldn't give up his sign, and the Ford advance man didn't press it. But here's the kicker. They guy heckled Ford some during his speech, and Ford came over to him later and shook his hand and spoke with him for a moment. We talked to the guy afterwards. He said that he was planning to vote for the Green candidate, but Ford may have changed his mind. Seeing Harold Ford Jr. in person has that effect on people.
Firefighters for Ford.
Rep. Lincoln Davis (D-TN) works the crowd
Rep. Lincoln Davis (D-TN) gets serious
MSNBC Washington Correspondent Norah O'Donnell waits for Ford
Congressman Harold Ford Jr. fires up the crowd
Ford and O'Donnell sound check gets a thumbs up
Asians for Ford
We encountered this walking in to the Duncan event at the Knoxville Coliseum. We guessed that the barbecue would be pretty fresh.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Bryson at the Duncan barbecue. He seems like a nice guy. We almost feel sorry for him, considering that he probably won't break 30% in the election. But at least the Republicans put up a credible candidate.
Here's Schree Pettigrew, candidate for the Tennessee House of Representatives from the 18th District, with Governor Phil Bredesen.
Here's Schree with Congressman Lincoln Davis.
Congressman Jimmy Duncan. There was a huge line to shake his hand, so I stepped in and snapped this photo instead.
Stacey Campfield was there, too. As soon as he saw me aiming my camera at him, he turned his back and crossed his arms. We're not sure why he didn't want to have his photo taken at Republican Congressman Jimmy Duncan's event.
Here's Schree again, with Congressman Ford.
UPDATE: Here's a great shot of the crowd and the MSNB set by Midori Barstow. Thanks, Midori.
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