Gillibrand and Ford harness anger over Wall Street
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who has found herself on the defense from jabs from former Tennessee Congressman Harold Ford Jr., is pushing back. She's demanding answers about whether Ford received one of the big Wall Street bonuses that outraged Americans in the wake of the Government bank bailout. Our Josh Robin has more.
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NEW YORK STATE -- Call it the bonus blow-up.
Trying to seize anger over Wall Street money, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is asking Harold Ford: did you or didn't you get a bonus?
"I think it's essential that he disclose this information and I think it's only fair that New Yorkers have a right to know," Gillibrand said.
The could-be candidate is on leave from Bank of America, which has paid back its federal bailout. Not yet a candidate, he's declined specifics.
"I can say that I was, fulfilled the contract and I was paid the terms of the contract," Ford said.
Asked again Friday, a spokesman said Ford's compensation is "set by a contract that states a specific amount."
Gillibrand has been critical of Wall Street before this race and as a congresswoman, voted against the TARP bailout. Still, as she faces a primary challenge from the right, the former corporate lawyer is unmistakably turning populist.
"It's about the process of manipulation. If she can look more like the electorate when she talks, the higher the probabilities are that the electorate will look well on her," said political consultant Hank Sheinkopf.
Ford's strategy is to spread concern Gillibrand is selling out the state. His spokesman says in part, "She told New Yorkers that she has other priorities than creating the jobs that they need. No wonder voters across the state are encouraging Harold to run."
Some of them are on Wall Street, including those close to Mayor Bloomberg, who is officially neutral but appeared to criticize the congressional delegation on Friday's radio show.
"I don't see the congressman from Michigan sitting around letting anybody bash the automobile industry or the elected officials from Texas, they wouldn't stand for two seconds for going after the oil industry," Bloomberg said.
Bloomberg's former campaign manager is already advising Ford and the mayor could get involved even more. But the former republican's help could also backfire in a democratic primary.