In 2006, Bill Goodman sat down with former Sen. Wendell Ford to record an interview for KET’s One to One. Ford had been retired from the U.S. Senate for just over seven years, yet he was still deeply interested in politics and the issues facing Kentucky and the nation. Here are a few quotes from their conversation.
On Political Campaigns
“There’s been a sea change since I first got into politics. It was more door to door, person to person, handshake to handshake when I first started… The need for money was not as evident as it is today.”
On Campaign Financing
“We go back to the First Amendment: you have the right to spend your own money and say whatever you want to say, and how can you limit that? It’s very difficult to do.”
On Political Partisanship
“We have to get away from [partisanship] because we’re not going very far and we’re not doing very well as a nation [as long] it’s my way or the highway. It just has to stop. Once the race is over, once the people say we want you to represent us, not just the Democrats or Republicans, but represent us as citizens of your districts, or your state, or this country. If we don’t get back to that, I think we have real problems.”
On Government Spending and Taxes
“The federal government is trying to cut back on everything, and if they can cut back on education, if they can cut back on all this, then that puts all the pressure on the states. So quit giving money back to the people that really don’t need it. If I’m making $10 – 15 million a year, and you give me a big tax cut, I really don’t need it…. Take that money and channel into the education of those young people that are probably going to work for that millionaire one of these days.”
On Expanded Gaming in Kentucky
“I hate to live on gambling, I really do, but we’re losing so much to [casinos] across the river…. So I think you’re going to have to give the choice to the people, and I think you’re going to have to [locate casinos at] more than racetracks… Racetracks can’t win unless they do that.”
On His Favorite Politicians
“[Former Kentucky Gov.] Bert Combs was one of the smartest fellows I’ve met in a long time. In the Senate, Sen. Robert Byrd from West Virginia is just as smart as he can be… He was the third senator for Kentucky when I was there, he really was helpful. Daniel Inouye from Hawaii: just a prince of a fellow and his word’s as good as gold…. Ted Stevens [Alaska Republican who served on the Senate Rules Committee with Ford] … We never had a cross word in all the 25 years I served there. He and I always worked things out… I’d walk across the street to find him right now.”
On His Future Aspirations
“I would like to live to be a great-grandfather. I want to live longer with my wife of 62 years… I want to go fishing a little bit, too.”
Watch the full conversation with Wendell Ford from 2006.