By Heather Grossmann
MANHATTAN — Former Tennessee Congressman Harold Ford Jr. continued to raise his public profile with speaking appearances over the weekend as he contemplates a primary challenge to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.
Ford joined a round-table discussion Sunday on MSNBC’s “Meet the Press.” Host David Gregory unsuccessfully pressed Ford to disclose the details of a bonus he had received from his job at Merrill Lynch — an issue Gillibrand frequently raises.
“I had a contract with Merrill Lynch,” Ford said. “I satisfied that, and I was paid. I make no bones about it. New York City, New York state depend heavily on Wall Street.”
Gregory also asked Ford about his stance on abortion, a hot button issue for Ford, who says he is pro-choice but has been quoted numerous times as saying he is pro-life — a term he claims has nothing to do with his views on abortion.
“I am pro choice. The record has been distorted,” Ford told Gregory, adding when asked to clarify, that he is in favor of parental notification. “If you — if your daughter can't go to an NR-17 movie, David, without some notification, it would seem to me that a family ought to be made aware of some of these.”
Ford was the keynote speaker at the New York State Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators dinner Sunday evening, where he and Gillibrand greeted each other after weeks of bashing each other publicly.
Ford, who ascended the stage to a mixture of boos and applause, discussed the difficult spot the Democratic Party is in, calling on voters to stop the wave of Republican upsets like those that occurred in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts.
Although he is still not a candidate, Ford finished his speech by requesting that the audience keep an open mind.
“I hope if we decide to go forward, you’ll give me an opportunity to show you that indeed I can lead, and lead not only for those in this room, but for those across this state.”