Correction to This Article
A Reliable Source item in the Oct. 10 Style section, on former congressman Harold Ford Jr.'s proposal of marriage to Emily Threlkeld in Paris, incorrectly referred to the hotel where he proposed as the Ritz-Carlton. It is the Hotel Ritz.

Harold Ford Jr.'s Next Election: To Tie the Knot

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By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The story of how Harold Ford Jr. ended his long run as Washington's most eligible bachelor began three years ago at a wedding in New Orleans. A fellow guest, Debbie Beard, remembers running into the handsome young congressman, whom she had met once before. He pointed to the table where he would be sitting.

"I told him, 'My daughter is seated there,' and he said, 'I'll find her,' " Beard told us yesterday. "I guess he did."

On Friday, Ford, 37, proposed to Beard's daughter, Emily Threlkeld, 26, over dinner at the Ritz-Carlton in Paris, where she was on a business trip. Threlkeld, a business manager for designer Carolina Herrera in N.Y.C., said yes. "She's a great young lady and will make a great wife," Ford told us yesterday. "I hope I'll make an equally great husband."

It's a sweet turn of events for the former Tennessee congressman -- now chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council -- who lost a close '06 Senate race after being pummeled by ads that portrayed him as a party-hearty playboy. Ironically, at the time he was already getting serious with the University of Miami grad, though she stayed largely out of view during the race.

"It was Harold's campaign; it wasn't her campaign," said Beard. Plenty of time for Threlkeld to catch up on politics, though: Ford is said to be eyeing the 2010 race for Tennessee governor. Wedding most likely in the spring.

Flight Insurance From The 52 Billion Dollar Man

Warren Buffett wasn't voted Most Likely to Succeed when he graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School in 1947, but no hard feelings -- the billionaire investor was the star of his 60th class reunion last weekend.

The Nebraska native, 77, attended middle and high school in D.C. while his father, Howard, served in Congress. Last year, he called up classmate Al Zanner to plan the 60th -- which is how Zanner, a retired dentist from Gaithersburg, found himself picking up Buffett at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Chevy Chase. (Half the price of the Four Seasons or Ritz!)

Zanner, wife Barbara and Buffett (whose wife, Astrid, skipped the reunion) joined three other couples at La Ferme Restaurant on Friday night, where the Oracle of Omaha (who's a member of The Washington Post Co. board) ordered vanilla ice cream and asked the waiter to leave the entire container of chocolate syrup. "I do not like skimpy sundaes," he said Monday. The second-richest man in the world picked up the check. "We protested, but that was that," Zanner said.

The party continued Saturday at the Columbia Country Club, where about 50 surviving Tigers and spouses gathered for cocktails, lunch, cheers and the school song. Then Zanner drove Buffett to the private air strip at Dulles, where he got a tour of Buffett's new plane and an invitation to his annual spring bash back in Nebraska. Zanner demurred; he's afraid to fly.

"I'll tell you what: You send me a dollar, and I'll give you $1 million if anything goes wrong with your flight," said Buffett, who's worth an estimated $52 billion.

"But what if it crashes and I die?" Zanner replied.

"Then your kids get the money."

Buffett told us he has made the bet to several frightened fliers and has never had to pay up. "People seem to find it reassuring," he said.

An Unlikely Tete-a-Tete: The Justice and the Reverend

It was a rare meeting of the minds: Clarence Thomas and the Rev. Al Sharpton, talking about life yesterday in the Supreme Court justice's chambers.

How'd that happen? Via conservative commentator Armstrong Williams, who invited the liberal activist to the book party for Thomas he hosted last week. Sharpton declined ("I didn't think it was appropriate because I don't endorse him" -- also, it was the reverend's birthday that night), but was curious enough to say he'd be grateful for a meeting some time. To his surprise, Thomas agreed.

"It was like two lost friends," Williams, who witnessed the colloquy, gushed to us yesterday. He said Thomas remembered when Sharpton protested outside his house ("Too bad I wasn't home, I would have let you in!").

Sharpton described the meeting to us as "by no means deferential -- it was candid. . . . I told him I disagreed with him on affirmative action, he told me he disagreed with me on preferences. . . . I said I respected what he's done with his life, but some of his votes I questioned."

So . . . anything in common? "Both of us have been controversial," Sharpton said. "And I think neither of us cares that we've been controversial."


© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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