(T-G Photo by John I. Carney)
Ford had originally been scheduled to present a class award on Friday night, and was on his way to the Celebration grounds just as a dispute between trainers and the U.S. Department of Agriculture shut down Friday night's show.
"I think everybody was disappointed," Ford told the Times-Gazette just as Tuesday night's show was starting. He said he'd been aware of some horse industry issues prior to Friday night and had signed on a bill sponsored by U.S. Rep. Bart Gordon to address them. But after Friday's shutdown, Ford said he spoke to USDA officials and expressed a desire to see the standoff resolved amicably and in a way that would allow the Celebration to continue.
Ford brought his campaign bus to the Celebration grounds on Tuesday and spent about 2 1/2 hours there, presenting a ribbon in Class 53 and moving through the arena shaking hands and chatting with audience members. He spent so much time with the crowd, in fact, that he had to cancel a planned radio interview.
Ford told the T-G he believes his campaign is going well.
"We're the underdog," he said. "If you want change, I'm the only candidate." He said he stands for reducing government spending and fixing "these broken borders."
Regarding the Middle East, Ford said he opposes any timetable for removing troops from Iraq, and believes there will be a U.S. presence in the country for some time to come. But he believes troop levels can be reduced if Iraq is divided into three states, similar to what happened in Bosnia. He said that would allow the country to more effectively focus on other problems -- such as Iran.
Ford, a member of a prominent and sometimes controversial family of Memphis politicians and civic leaders, faces former Chattanooga mayor Bob Corker, the Republican nominee, in the November general election. The Senate seat is being vacated by Republican incumbent and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who is considering a presidential campaign.