After a year that by his own admission has had “some rocky moments”, Rob Ford is vowing not to back down as he tries for a second term as mayor of Toronto.
Hundreds of members of Ford Nation lined up well before doors opened Thursday night on an event billed as Ford’s campaign launch. Ford officially signed up for re-election January 2.
Party-goers were handed blue and red Ford flags and a free drink ticket as they entered Etobicoke’s Toronto Congress Centre. The cavernous room was about half full when the mayor took the stage at 8 pm.
Many strode directly toward a line to buy bobbleheads of the mayor’s likeness. The figurines went for $30 and $100, a fundraising effort for the campaign. The bobblehead line reached nearly to the back of the event space for most of the night. There was other memorabilia to buy too—T-shirts, foam fingers, thundersticks, buttons and travel mugs.
The space was decorated with video boards, red and blue Ford Nation signs and a de-commissioned Ford Motors firetruck, festooned with messages like “Saving the taxpayers from getting burned”.
Rob Ford made his entrance into the hall in grand style—led in by bagpipers, a moving three-person pyramid, and sign-waving supporters.
During his nearly half-hour speech, Rob Ford told the crowd over and over he is standing firm on what he’s been offering up as mayor since 2010.
“When it comes to standing up for the great people of this city, fighting for the average, hard-working person, I won’t back down.”
Ford’s also used the opportunity to showcase “every guy” image while admonishing “caviar Calvins and special interest Sallys”.
“The people of Toronto know that I am just like them,” he said.
Ford said he has learned “how much it matters to people that their mayor has lived through life’s ups and downs.”
He did not specifically mention the crack scandal, being caught impaired on video or being investigated by Toronto Police, but early in his speech, Ford acknowledged that the last year has had some “rocky moments.”
Ford’s unidentified mistakes have taught him about “humility, the kindness of people and the spirit of second chances.”
Ford said he has been approached many times while buying groceries or grabbing a coffee by people offering their support, encouragement and expressed hope that he’s learned from his mistakes and will move on.
“I want to say to you, loud and clear, I have listened to every single one you”, said Ford “I have learned loud and clear.”