Toronto Mayor Rob Ford: Heavy drinking is 'past me'
UNDATED (NBC) -
Embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford told Matt Lauer on TODAY Tuesday that his binge drinking days are in the past.
"Have I had a drink? Yes," he said, but denied he still drinks excessively. "That's past me, and we're moving on."
Ford said he's now focused on his campaign to win re-election on October 27. He told Lauer he looks forward to debating his opponents and putting his record up against what he said is nearly three dozen people who have registered so far to run against him.
In his last TODAY interview with Lauer three months ago, Ford vowed to change his life. At the time, he was battling attention over getting caught on camera smoking crack cocaine. He later said he was "probably in a drunken stupor" at the time. Soon afterward, Ford's own city council voted to take away his powers.
"I'm not in any drug treatment programs,'' he told Lauer in November. "I have a weight issue. I've been training every day. All I can say is actions speak louder than words. I invite you to come back. Give me five or six months, and if they don't see a difference, I'll eat my words."
On Tuesday, Ford denied he has a substance abuse problem.
"I don’t use illegal drugs. I’ve experimented with them, probably a year ago, but I don’t use drugs. We’re in great shape," he said.
However, a new video posted to YouTube in January, in which Ford appeared impaired and rambling in a Jamaican accent, forced Ford to admit he had been drinking with friends. Ford's brother, Doug, insisted the video was old but Ford himself downplayed it.
"I’ve been brought up with a lot of Jamaican friends, and we went out, and that’s what I mean. I drank and I enjoyed myself," he said. "You know what, Matt. Maybe you’re perfect, but I’m not, and we’re moving on in a positive direction and we’re moving forward."
Ford described his biggest change in his life since their last interview has been going to the gym every day and shedding a few pounds.
"I’m going forward in a positive direction. I’m down. Come back in a few months," he said.
Ford and his brother briefly had their own TV show in Canada, called "Ford Nation," but it was cancelled after one day.