Monday, September 17, 2001

CRISIS BRINGS FORD, THOMPSON TO THE FORE

The senator sounds a possible re-election note; the congressman advocates a bipartisan measure.

Posted By on Mon, Sep 17, 2001 at 4:00 AM

U.S. Senator Fred Thompson, a Republican, and U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Jr., a Democrat, figured in important public statements over the last two days-- Thompson in a way that suggests the current national crisis may bring him closer to running for re-election next year and Ford stepping forward as an exponent of bipartisan support for emergency legislation.

Expressing a need “to be in Tennessee among Tennesseans,” Thompson appeared at a Nashville church service on Sunday and later Sunday night at Bellevue Baptist Church, where he received tumultuous applause from an overflowing congregation.

The senator spoke to one consequence of Tuesday’s terrorist attacks: “This is a wakeup call for us that perhaps in some respects we’ve been needing.” He cautioned against expectations of immediate results in the newly declared war against terrorism.

“We’re not going to be able to bomb our way to victory at 20,000 feet in two or three days,” Thompson said. “But it’s something we’ve got to do and something we will do ... . We’re going to get back to the running of America, and we’re going to make the folks who did this wish they hadn’t done it.”

In an interview with MSNBC Monday, Ford expressed his willingness “as a moderate Democrat” to consider the reduction or elimination of capital-gains taxes and the possible suspension of payroll taxes, both ends sought by the Bush administration. Ford suggested that an increase in the current minimum wage might be a part of this “broader stimulus package.”

Ford also said he thought Congress would enact emergency financial aid for the nation’s airlines and enact stricter airport security requirements when it reconvenes on Thursday.

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