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Monday, October 30, 2006

'Not Your Daddy's Democrats'

Senate Democratic contender Harold Ford Jr. believes that conservative stands, coupled with an unrelenting attack on his Republican opponent, the former mayor of Chattanooga, Bob Corker's, positions on Iraq, homeland security and immigration, is the only way a Democrat can win in today's conservative Tennessee.

"If I was doing the textbook thing that Democrats do," Ford tells Newsweek in the current issue, "I'd say, 'Republicans want to short Social Security, they want to rob poor children of their college education, they want to deny families the education system.' Don't get me wrong, there's some truth to that. But that's not me. Just let me be myself."

Democrats, even liberal ones, will let Ford be whoever he wants to be, for one simple reason: he may deliver them the Senate. In the current issue, General Editor Jonathan Darman takesa behind-the-scenes look at Ford, whose strength in the race springs inpart from being that rare Democrat who is unencumbered by complexity andcontradiction-with his party and with himself. Two weeks before the midterm elections, the Dems' fate lies not in the hands of the party's much-dissected antiwar left but with a handful of careful, calculating centrists like Ford, the magazine says.

As part of Newsweek's Oct. 30 cover package "Not Your Daddy'sDemocrats" (on newsstands Monday, Oct. 23), Senior White HouseCorrespondent Richard Wolffe reports on Corker's strategy in the Tennessee Senate race. After trailing by several points last month, the White Houseand party leaders stepped in.

Their solution: a new campaign manager-TomIngram, who has helped turn the Corker campaign around with new ads and anew message- that Corker is a self-made businessman from Tennessee, whilehis opponent, Ford, has never held a real job outside Washington politics. Ingram dropped ads attacking Ford as a liberal, replacing them withreferences to the Ford family machine-and by extension, theAfrican-American politics of Memphis.

"I'm the candidate of change," Corker told Newsweek, "My opponent certainly hasn't shown much independence. He votes with his party 80 percent of the time."

Corker is distancing himself from the White House and the GOP-led Congress. Yet he also needs the conservative base to turn out to vote-and they are unsettled by his divided loyalties.


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