According to a Kerry campaign staffer, Ford and the Massachusetts Democrat spoke on the phone several times and met at least once recently when both were in Washington while Congress was in session.
Kerry had asked for Ford’s support about a month ago. “Ford was noncommittal. He seemed to be pondering just how serious Gephardt was in his campaign, and whether or not he would have a role in it,” says a Ford staffer. “Gephardt also asked for his endorsement, but when it was apparent there was little in it for Ford, it was easy for another candidate to come in and get his backing.”
Ford is now expected to help Kerry raise money in Tennessee and is already working on generating support inside the Congressional Black Caucus. Surprisingly, Ford was not contacted by the Rev. Al Sharpton. “The Rev never approached us,” says the Ford staffer.
Ford was scheduled to introduce Kerry at least at one appearance in Tennessee in the next couple of days. Kerry is currently making his first serious swing through the South, to Arkansas, Alabama, and Tennessee. He was at a Democratic party fundraiser in Montgomery last night.
Ford’s jump to Kerry is the latest blow to Gephardt’s attempts to line up his own caucus’s support for his campaign. With Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi still refusing to throw her support behind him, his campaign, which is floundering in Iowa and New Hampshire, is already looking like an early loser in the primary season.
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