Rep. Harold Ford

On Friday morning, Rep. Harold Ford, D-Tenn., announced his campaign to succeed Rep. Richard Gephardt as House minority leader. The 32-year-old Ford, a late entry into a contest that Rep. Nancy Pelosi seems to have locked up, is one of the youngest members of Congress, but he’s already a national name thanks to his media gifts (he was named one of People magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People) and his keynote speech at the 2000 Democratic convention. David Plotz, a grade-school classmate of Ford’s, spent a day with him at the convention and explained why the Democrats could use his talents.