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Michael Ford will be remembered as an inspirational strategist and the originator of the pig-and-chicken story that's been used to motivate countless Democratic field organizers.
Ford died Nov. 5 from complications related to melanoma, according to the Washington Post. The 65 year old marked his final Election Day at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.
Joe Trippi remembers meeting Ford while working as a "$15-a-day organizer" on the late-Sen. Ted Kennedy's 1980 presidential campaign. "I remember the very first time I ever laid eyes on him. He said to a whole room full of field organizers that he didn't want us to just be involved, he wanted us to be committed," Trippi recalled to C&E. "And that if we had any doubt about what that meant think about your breakfast in the morning.
"Because the eggs that you ate, the chicken was involved in your breakfast, but when you had that bacon, the pig was committed to it."
That story has traditionally been told at the beginning of Democratic presidential field campaign meetings ever since.
On Walter Mondale's presidential run in 1984, Ford created a unit of top field organizers called "The Hogs" in honor of that parable.
Trippi, a Democratic consultant, also credits Ford with pushing Mondale to select Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate. "He was part of that team and wrote constant memos to Mondale about why he should pick a woman," Trippi said. "He was a brilliant strategist."
In 2004, when Trippi was running Howard Dean's presidential race, he asked Ford, whom he calls a brother, to come in and lend a hand. The chicken-and-pig story "was how we started all our field meetings," Trippi said. "It was very cool to see and hear something he said to me in 1979 that sent me off into the snows of Iowa, to see that circle go through.
"A lot of the inklings of the Dean campaign were things I learned from him in the 1970s and '80s."
Ford's trainees now populate the senior ranks of the Democratic Party. "Even though he understood the Internet and TV and all that, he was the guy who instilled that commitment in everybody who worked for him," Trippi said. "Politics demanded that you have passion and heart and soul in it."