By Andy Sher
NASHVILLE — Democratic U.S. Senate hopeful Harold Ford Jr. again criticized those vying for the GOP’s nomination, just days after state Republicans complained about his comparison of GOP candidates to the Three Stooges.
If they want me to call them the three statesmen,’ they ought to act like it, Rep. Ford, D-Memphis, said this week of Republicans Ed Bryant, Bob Corker and Van Hilleary.
I think up until now, the debates they’ve had have been embarrassing, Rep. Ford said of the three Republicans. It’s been beneath the dignity, intellect and aspirations of voters all across this state, and until they raise it, I’ll keep saying it.
U.S. Rep. Ford last weekend called Mr. Bryant, Mr. Corker and Mr. Hilleary the Three Stooges. The slapstick comedy trio was known for on-screen antics where they often insulted and then attacked each other with eye pokes, face slaps and kicks to the shin.
The three Republicans, vying to succeed U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., are engaged in pointed verbal campaigning against each other leading up to the Aug. 3 primary. They are scheduled to debate tonight in Knoxville.
In an appearance on Fox News’ Big Picture program that ran Tuesday and Wednesday, Rep. Ford complained the candidates also have said horrible things about me.
Republican Party Chairman Bob Davis said in a statement this week he found nothing funny about Rep. Ford’s Three Stooges remarks and demanded an official apology. He attacked Rep. Ford’s atrocious voting record and reckless immature behavior.
Appearing Wednesday on Fox’s Big Picture, Mr. Bryant said Rep. Ford’s remarks were an example of a young man who is certainly eager to go over to the Senate, perhaps a little too eager.
Hilleary campaign manager Jennifer Coxe called the congressman’s remarks classless and immature. But that is what Tennesseans expect from a Ford.
Corker campaign manager Ben Mitchell said Rep. Ford is using the spirited nature of the Republican primary to engage in some petty name calling, but that’s something he’ll be doing on his own.
The state GOP also is borrowing from popular cultural icons. Last weekend at a Tennessee Democratic Party fund raiser, the state GOP sent a campaign operative dressed as the Phantom of the Opry.
Republicans said they were making the point that Democrats including Rep. Ford have been masquerading around the state as conservatives, trying to deceive Tennessee voters.
Republicans also have aides wearing bear suits and Tennessee Highway Patrol-style hats reminiscent of Smokey the Bear at Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen’s campaign rallies to highlight THP personnel controversies.
Rep. Ford, in Tuesday comments did not back off the Three Stooges comparison. But he also said he looks forward to serious debate.
While labeling the Republican trio the Stooges, Rep. Ford declined to say which candidates he thought resembled Stooges Larry, Moe and Curly.
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