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Analysts Discuss Midterm Elections, Foley Scandal

Political analysts Mark Shields and David Brooks discuss the Tennessee Senate race, other competitive midterm election matchups, and the political implications of the scandal over Rep. Mark Foley's involvement with young male pages.

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  • RAY SUAREZ:

    And to the analysis of Shields and Brooks, syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

    And, Mark, in the latest polls that I've seen, Harold Ford's ahead, within the margin of error. It's very, very close, but he's ahead.

  • MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist:

    That Harold Ford is competitive is a tribute to the campaign he has run, which has been a masterful campaign, and the candidate he's become. He has been far more aggressive in this campaign, not only in asserting his own positions, in confronting issues that many Democrats are accused of kind of ducking elsewhere, the national security, Iraq, and in defining his opponent, Mayor Corker, on his private business dealings, on immigration and matters like that, where the INS has nailed him for having four workers who were illegal and were deported from his company.

    So, I mean, the fact that Harold Ford is in this race, if he does win it, this will be a textbook campaign study for generations. The Democrats have not won this state in a Senate race since 1990. Their native son, Al Gore, running, was a candidate of peace and prosperity party in 2000, couldn't carry it for the presidency.

  • RAY SUAREZ:

    Is this all on Harold Ford's credit side of the ledger, David, or is there also some sign that Tennessee is changing? They elected a Democratic governor last time.

  • DAVID BROOKS, Columnist, New York Times:

    They've often done that. They have Governor Bredesen there, though you get a lot of southern states who elect Democratic moderate governors, like Bredesen is, and will still — it's been trending Republican. So I do think, a, the national climate — there are a few things going on in the world which help Democrats — and, b, Harold Ford.

    And Ford, along with — I think you see a couple of Senate candidates, in Virginia, here in Tennessee, in Missouri, who are pretty conservative, sort of hawkish on the war to some extent, mention the Dubai ports deal quite a lot, sort of suspicious of trade, surprisingly nationalist on immigration, and very much against gay marriage. So you see sort of a series of Democrats sort of in the upper south running this sort of campaign. And so far, it seems to be working.

    And one other thing about this race is — we've been hearing rumors that Barack Obama has been more seriously considering running for president. He told Jonathan Alter of Newsweek that it was almost 50-50. And I think one of the factors in his decision is this race. Can Harold Ford, can a black candidate win in the upper south?

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