Ford campaigns for Chandler

October 30, 2003|ANN R. HARNEY

HARRODSBURG Wendell Ford, former Kentucky governor and U.S. senator, roused a crowd of Democratic Party faithful here Wednesday afternoon.

Ford told the crowd gathered around the front steps of the Mercer County Courthouse that Tuesday's vote is vitally important. Many of those at the rally were elderly men and women.

The former senator praised Ben Chandler, Democratic Party nominee for governor, while blasting his GOP opposition, Rep. Ernie Fletcher.

Ford said Chandler's concerns are those of Kentucky's citizens while Fletcher's concerns are those of big business and special interests. Ford made his speech here after speaking to Democrats in Danville and he left Harrodsburg to go to a rally in Lawrenceburg.

Kentucky has some of the lowest electricity rates in the nation, Ford said, but Fletcher has worked to put the state in a four- or five-county consortium that would raise residential rates by 30 percent and industrial rates up more than 50 percent.


Ford repeated what he said was an old rural Kentucky saying: "There's something not right about that."

He pointed to the actual votes Fletcher has made that he alleged are in contrast to what his public stands have been, including prescription drugs and tobacco. "This is the most important vote in history," he said. "People power counts in this race. It's a Kentucky race."

Ford added that outsiders are not helpful in this race. President Bush will be in Paducah and London Saturday to campaign for Fletcher. Ford concluded that Fletcher "is a pilot without an airplane, a doctor without a patient and a preacher without a congregation."

The pitch was the same at a barbecue restaurant in Lawrenceburg. "Not only does it set a precedent here in Kentucky," Ford said, referring to the election. "It sends a message to the rest of the country: We're tired of the biggest budget deficit in history."

Fletcher winds up bus tour of western Kentucky

Meanwhile, Fletcher wound up a three-day bus tour of western Kentucky, doing his own bit to fire up local party workers and generate a Republican turnout on Tuesday.

Western Kentucky remains Democratic by registration, but its conservative voters tend to take Republican candidates to heart.

"We're a few points up and we've got a few days left," Fletcher told a shivering crowd of about 35 people, mainly local volunteers, who braved a morning chill to greet him at Audubon Mill Park in Henderson.

But there should be no sitting on a lead, Fletcher said. "It's always good to be up in the polls, but we're going to run like we're 10 points down."

Fletcher says the Democrats are attacking him because of a single vote he cast against legislation that would have allowed Americans to buy cheaper drugs from other countries but which Fletcher said also would have covered "Third World countries" outside the reach of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Ford has recorded some hard-hitting radio and television commercials for Chandler's campaign, attacking Fletcher on prescription drugs and on a free-trade vote that Fletcher says was to benefit the printer manufacturer Lexmark International in Lexington.

Fletcher responded mildly to the attack ads. "People expect a Democratic politician to support a Democrat," he said. When Ford speaks through a commercial, "it's just a politician speaking."

Before the crowd left in Harrodsburg, Mercer County Attorney Douglas Greenburg retrieved the microphone Ford had been using to ask the crowd to vote for Bruce Harper, the Democratic Party's nominee for Mercer County clerk.

Greenburg said since Harper took over in July, the records with which attorneys deal have been greatly improved and it would be a shame to have someone else in the office.

Charles Wolfe of the Associated Press contributed to this story.

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