Reaffirming his support for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, former 9th District congressman Harold Ford Jr. has fully and decisively distanced himself from Beecher Frasier, who ran Ford's 2006 campaign for the U.S. Senate and who made news over the weekend with apparent concerns about Obama's possible "terrorist" ties.
In a statement dispatched to the Nashville Post late Friday, Ford declared that "Beecher's past association with me is just that - past," and said, "I don't want a relationship with him, or anyone else who says these things. His comments offend me as an American and embarrass me as a Tennessean."
Frasier, along with Fred Hobbs, a Democratic state committeeman, had been quoted in the Nashville City Paper on Friday as wondering about possible associations with terrorism on Obama's part. Writer John Rodgers was exploring the reasons why 4th District congressman Lincoln Davis, a Democrat, had so far not made a statement endorsing Obama as his party's nominee.
Rodgers first elicited this quote from Hobbs, who is considered close to Davis: "I don't exactly approve of a lot of the things he [Obama] stands for and I'm not sure we know enough about him. He's got some bad connections, and he may be terrorist connected for all I can tell. It sounds kind of like he may be."
The City Paper article continued: "His [Davis'] chief of staff, Beecher Frasier, said he doesn't know for sure if Obama is 'terrorist connected' but he assumes he's not."
The statements by Hobbs and Frasier caused a storm in both state and national Democratic circles and generated demands that both men resign their public connections. Both Hobbs and Frasier have since tried to backtrack from their earlier statements, Hobbs insisting that he intends to vote for Obama and Frasier saying that "nobody in his right mind" could regard Obama as connected with terrorists.
One upshot of the controversy is that future political prospects for Davis, who has been rumored as a potential gubernatorial candidate in 2010, have been dimmed.
Ford's statement on the controversy is as follows:
Let me be clear about 2 things
First, Beecher Frasier is dead wrong. Senator Obama is a Christian, American patriot with a vision to make America safer and stronger. I am going to join millions of Tennesseans and Americans by working this year this to bring life to that vision by electing Barack Obama President of the United States.
Second, Beecher's past association with me is just that - past. I've had no relationship with him since 2006. I don't want a relationship with him, or anyone else who says these things. His comments offend me as an American and embarrass me as a Tennessean.