— From NBC's Chuck Todd
Harold Ford Jr. for Commerce Secretary? It's something a few Democrats around town are pushing and, according to sources, the idea of appointing the former Tennessee Congressman is being given serious thought by folks high up in the Obama administration. [NOTE UPDATE BELOW]
On paper, Ford checks a lot of boxes for a an easy-to-confirm nominee for this post: He's a pro-business Democrat (remember, this is Commerce Secretary so the job is to be a promoter of business); he's a former member of the Congressional Black Caucus (you'll recall this whole kerfuffle over control of the census under a Judd Gregg-led Commerce Dept. was started by complaints from the CBC); and he's a practiced spokesperson on TV (the Geithner rollout this week is a reminder that the administration doesn't have enough solid media savvy members of his team who can sell the administration's policies.).
There is one, potential, gigantic problem: Ford's current place of employment -- Merrill Lynch. Given the current views of Wall Street, Ford's nomination could come under immediate fire and he'd have to disclose exactly what his job was with ML etc. and whether he was one of the 700 million dollar bonus recipients before Merrill completed its sale to Bank of America in late 2008.
***UPDATE: Ford's folks tell me that he never received a bonus in his time at Merrill Lynch nor was he involved in developing or selling anything having to do with mortgage securities. Ford's job was simply business development and advising clients on domestic or int'l issues. Bottom line: no one close to Ford believes he has a Merrill problem.