Brief of the Week Jan. 18, 2010

REWIRING THE OLD FORD: Now that he is a newly minted New Yorker and thinking seriously of challenging Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in the Democratic primary this fall, former Tennessee Rep. Harold Ford, Jr. (who compiled a lifetime 19% rating from the American Conservative Union) is tailoring his political views for more liberal New York voters. In an interview with the New York Times last week, Ford, who now works for Bank of America and is a commentator on Fox-TV, said he has changed his opposition to same-sex marriage. “I don’t think it’s a great leap to go from civil unions to gay marriage,” said Ford, who voted twice in the House for making same-sex marriage illegal but now says he would vote to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act and would revisit the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for gays in the military. Although he frequently described himself as “pro-life” during his losing bid for the Senate from Tennessee in ’06, the 39-year-old Ford now tells the Times: “To describe me as pro-life is just wrong. I am personally pro-choice and legislatively pro-choice.” Ford also explained that he changed on his ’06 support of legislation to permit police officers to investigate and arrest illegal immigrants because “I have come to better understand the issue. Empowering local enforcement to do what federal law enforcement was not doing seemed to make sense in my state.” When the Times noted Ford’s National Rifle Association membership and voting record in favor of the right to keep and bear arms, the transplanted Tennessean said he now supports all of the tough gun restrictions that the mayors of New York and Newark, N.J., have put in place. Ford, who is presently touring New York to explore a challenge to Gillibrand, also said,“I am a Yankees fan” and has yet to visit Citi Field, home of the Mets