Jonathan Chait

Ford's Rove-ing Eye

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Lloyd Grove reports that, after the 2004 election, Harold Ford Jr. requested and received an audience with Karl Rove:

[S]hortly after the 2004 election, no less a Democrat than Rep. Harold Ford Jr.back then a four-term congressman from Memphisrequested a meeting to discuss his political future in Tennessee. According to a knowledgeable source, Rove sat for three hours with the young congressman at the Washington home of mutual friends, where Ford floated the idea of switching parties to run for the Senate in 2006 as a Republicanthat is, if President Bush could “clear the field” and prevent a contested primary. According to my source, Rove responded encouragingly, but nothing came of the secret session, and Ford ended up runningand losingas a Dem.

Ford couldn’t be reached for comment. But Perino says: “As Karl recalls it, the meeting lasted for less than an hour. He stopped by on the way home as more of a ‘get to know you’; it was the hosts that had visions of Ford running as a Republican. Karl thought it unlikely.”

A Ford spokesman, reached by Ben Smith, denies this:

"Rove invited Harold to dinner. Harold went. Rove asked Harold to consider switching to the Republican Party. Harold said no. They finished dinner," he said.

Obviously, it's one person's word against another. What do I believe? I believe that, in the wake of the 2004 elections, Republicans looked like a party on the ascent, and Ford would probably get in with them if he could. If there was a communist revolution in this country, Ford would be denouncing his colleagues as capitalist spies and diligently working his way up the party hierarchy.

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