National sleaze repository Harold Ford really needs that civil service job:
Zeroing in on a perception that Ms. Gillibrand too readily defers to Senate leaders, especially Senator Charles E. Schumer, he added: “We have a fundamental difference on independence. We have a difference on the level, the kind and the stature of advocacy New Yorkers deserve. And we have some honest differences on issues.”
He blasted her support for the proposed health care overhaul, which is expected to cost New York an extra $1 billion a year, and for opposing the taxpayer bailout of the financial industry.
“It was a mistake,” he said, noting that most Wall Street firms had already paid back the money. “How can you be against ensuring that the lifeblood of your city and of your state survives?”
After Mr. Ford, a five-term Tennessee congressman, arrived in New York, he took a job as a vice chairman at Merrill Lynch (now Bank of America). But he kept a toe in politics, becoming a commentator on Fox and then NBC, which features him several days a week on programs like MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
Mr. Ford declined to discuss what he is paid by the bank, but publicly available data suggests that he earns at least $1 million a year. Asked what role outsize pay packages played in fueling the financial crisis, Mr. Ford said he objected to capping executive compensation on Wall Street. “I am a capitalist,” he said. “I believe that people take risk, and there are rewards if they do well; they should lose if they don’t.”
Yet somehow he gets by:
Speaking from a conference room at New York University, where he is a teacher, Mr. Ford, 39, expressed enthusiasm about his new hometown, though he described a life quite different than most New Yorkers. On many days, he is driven to an NBC television studio in a chauffeured car. He and his wife, Emily, a 29-year-old fashion executive, live a few blocks from the Lexington Avenue subway line in the Flatiron district. But Mr. Ford said he takes the subway only occasionally in the winter, to avoid the cold when he cannot hail a cab.
Asked whether he had visited all five boroughs, he mentioned taking a helicopter ride across the city with fellow executives, at the invitation of Raymond W. Kelly, New York City’s police commissioner. “The only place I have not spent considerable time is Staten Island,” he said, adding that “I landed there in the helicopter, so I can say yes.”
Asked about his baseball loyalties, he responded: “I am a Yankees fan,” and added that he had yet to visit Citi Field, the home of the Mets.
He has breakfast most mornings at the Regency Hotel on Park Avenue, and he receives regular pedicures. (He described them as treatment for a foot condition.)
Obviously a populist campaign is called for.
Offering a glimpse into a possible campaign strategy, Mr. Ford and his aides said he would run as an insurgent who is uncontrolled by the entrenched political class that he says has rallied around Ms. Gillibrand. His tentative slogan: “Harold Ford: nobody’s man but ours.”