February 3, 2014 4:29 pm

Rob Ford a political ‘genius,’ Robyn Doolittle says

ABOVE: Global’s Leslie Roberts has an in-depth chat with Toronto Star reporter Roby Doolittle. Background photo courtesy of Charles Vanegas. 

TORONTO – Mayor Rob Ford is a political “genius,” reporter Robyn Doolittle said Monday while reflecting on the mayor’s years at city hall.

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In a one-on-one interview with Global News’ Leslie Roberts for the launch of her book Crazy Town: The Rob Ford Story, Doolittle suggested the scandal-plagued Ford is a “human barometer of public opinion” and “knows exactly what he can get away with.”

To illustrate that, Doolittle recalled Ford’s November press conference during which he apologized for making his now-infamous “more than enough to eat at home” comment.

“[Ford] brought his wife out to stand at his side while he apologized, and then made this huge speech saying ‘I implore you, respect my wife’s privacy.’ Then he grabbed his wife Renata and dragged her through something like 50 reporters and photographers and it looked just awful on the media even through there is a door to the right that he could have taken,” Doolittle said. “He’s a master of that sort of political messaging.”

IN-DEPTH COVERAGE: Mayor Rob Ford

Doolittle’s book, released Monday, quickly hit number one on Amazon.com’s best sellers list. She wrote the book, she said, to “educate” people both in Toronto and abroad about Ford and his family.

She said Ford is seen as “a joke” outside of Toronto but warned that image overshadows the “the severity of the situation” she hoped to expose with her book.

“You have a mayor who has been associating with alleged gang members, guns smugglers, who’s been allegedly extorted by those people, who is the target of blackmail attempts, whose circle of friends includes men who allegedly hit women and sell drugs and who, as mayor, is consuming crack cocaine and buying illegal drugs, who’s running the police budget in part and actively engaged in selecting who’s on the police board, there are real consequences to these actions,” she said.

READ MORE: Everything Mayor Rob Ford has said about crack video allegations

Doolittle’s book dives into the mayor’s Etobicoke upbringing, his youth and his political career thus far. She suggests in her book that the Ford family has constructed an image of itself as Canada’s Kennedy family – a clan destined to “lead this country.”

“They really do believe that they were born to lead this country,” she said.  “You’re hearing it again with Rob saying he is going to run for mayor, Councillor Doug Ford, his brother, is saying that he is going to run provincially. And with a vacant seat now in Etobicoke, Doug Ford has promised that another Ford would be on that ballot.”

While Ford’s mayoralty has been dominated by scandals, Doolittle said it is possible he can win re-election.

“I think that if not him, certainly another Ford and certainly his brand of politics,” she said.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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