At a Glance
- Career History: Vice Chairman at Merrill Lynch (since February 2007); U.S. Representative (1997 to 2006)
- Birthday: May 11, 1970
- Hometown: Memphis, Tenn.
- Alma Mater: University of Pennsylvania, B.A. (American history), 1992; University of Michigan, J.D., 1996
- Spouse: Emily Threlkeld
- Religion: Baptist
- Web site
Path to Power
Ford was born in Memphis but grew up largely in Washington D.C. His father, Harold E. Ford Sr. (D), was elected to the House of Representatives in 1974, and the legend is that on the day Ford Sr. was sworn in, the four-year-old Ford said to the other congressmen, "This is what I want to do when I grow up."
After graduating from St. Alban's high school in Washington, D.C., the younger Ford went to the University of Pennsylvania and earned a degree in American history. After graduating, he worked in the Commerce Department on Bill Clinton's 1992 transition team and as a staffer for Sen. Jim Sasser (D-Tenn.).
Ford is purposefully difficult to pin down along the ideological perspective. In Congress, he was a member of the liberal Congressional Black Caucus, the moderate New Democrat Coalition and the conservative Blue Dog Coalition. Most notably, he voted with conservatives for the use of force in Iraq but also against needle exchanges. He voted for an anti-flag burning constitutional amendment and for the balanced budget amendment. Yet he is ardently supportive of affirmative action and opposed to tax cuts.
Like Barack Obama, Ford argues for a post-partisan approach to politics instead of a Democratic or Republican philosophy. In his inaugural address as chairman in March 2007, he said the DLC should bring up innovative ideas "even if they make some in our own party uncomfortable."
Ford grew up the son of a Tennessee congressman and spent a great deal of time during his childhood in Al Gore's house.
Gore later chose Ford to be the keynote speaker at his 2000 Democratic National Convention. After graduating from college, he worked briefly for the Commerce Department Under Secretary Ron Brown, who Ford describes as a "profound influence."