TODAY   |  February 25, 2014

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford: Heavy drinking is ‘past me’

Three months after telling Matt Lauer he was changing his ways, Toronto’s mayor joins TODAY to say his team is “doing a great job” as he prepares to run for re-election and that he’s been “going to the gym every day.” As for drugs and alcohol, Ford says, “I don’t use illegal drugs. I experimented with them probably a year ago,” and asserts that heavy drinking is “past me.”

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> and the world has watched his wild ride over the past year or so. after months of repeated denials, he famously admitted in november to smoking crack . and the city council in toronto eventually stripped him of much of his power. but ford says he's committed to running for reelection, and when we talked last fall, he vowed to clean up his act.

>> i'm not perfect. maybe you are. all i can say, matt, actions speak louder than words. i invite you to come back. give me five or six months, and if people see a difference --

>> we're checking in with mayor ford right now. mr. mayor. good morning to you. good to see you.

>> good morning, matt, how are you?

>> we're at the three-month mark, what are the biggest changes you've made so far?

>> going to the gym every day, down a few pounds and just going from door to door campaigning hard and the election is october 27th , and we're going to win. so i just can't wait. it's about eight months away.

>> it was november 18th i came to toronto and visited with you mayor ford. it was a bad day for you, not long after you had admitted to using crack cocaine and the city council that day stripped you of a lot of those powers. have you remained effective in the job of mayor since that time? is it possible?

>> absolutely. we had a major ice storm , i led the charge in getting the power back on in the city. and we've had the lowest tax increase over the last three years, saved the taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, we're building subways, got rid of the car registration tax everyone says we couldn't get rid of. we struck a union deal with the unions. we're on fire. we're doing a great job. there's new people running, going to be a new council and a lot of people are excited for october.

>> when i asked you a second ago what major changes you made in your life, you immediately talked about your weight and the fact you've been going to the gym. i think a lot of people probably think you needed to make changes in another area of your life, the area of substance abuse. let me ask you point-blank, since we sat down on november 18th , mayor ford, have you used crack cocaine or any other illegal drug ?

>> i don't use illegal drugs . i experimented with them, like, probably a year ago, i don't use drugs. and we're in great shape and right after this interview, i'm planning to hit the gym. i'd be at the gym usually this time now but things are going fantastic, matt.

>> in terms of drinking. you admitted to me in that interview that on occasion you drink too much, but you also told other people subsequent or after that interview that you were done with drinking, 100%. are you still drinking heavily on occasion, mr. mayor?

>> no, not at all. have i had a drink? yes, i have. but not to the point of episodes before. so you know what, that's past me and we're moving on and i can't wait for the call pain. and i want to start debating my opponents. we've got a few people in the race, 34 people registered against me and i want to start debating, putting my record up against theirs. i have an absolutely fantastic track record in saving taxpayers money.

>> it was a short time after you told canadian tv that you were 100% done with drinking, that video came out in the restaurant. you were clear lly inebriated, i think you called it a minor setback.

>> you know what, i've been brought up with a lot of jamaican friends. and we went out. and that's what i mean, i drank and enjoyed myself. and i think it was friday -- i can't remember what night it was. but you know what, matt and maybe you're perfect, but i'm not and we're moving on in a positive direction. and we're moving forward. and, again, i can't wait for the campaign. we've been out campaigning, went to an event last night, got an amazing response. i'm going to hit the gym, doing a press conference at 10:30 . and i'm going forward in a positive direction, and i'm down and come back in another few months, you're cheating.

>> yeah, i'm jumping the gun a little bit. we were in sochi and i was in a production meeting and someone said there's a new videotape of mayor ford from toronto , and i think there was a gasp in the loom and we thought, oh, no, but turns out it was this videotape of you jumping up and down as your canadian women's hockey team tied the u.s. women and then went on to win that gold medal . i think i'd rather see you talking in a jamaican accent than jumping up and down celebrating that one. and then your men went on to win the gold medal . you can gloat a little bit in the last 30 seconds.

>> hockey's like maybe basketball or football to you. but hockey's a religion here. and congratulations, obviously, to the u.s. but i want to congratulate our team, women's and men's hockey team, we did a phenomenal job. and with all due respect to all my friends in the states, hockey's our game. we took it home and it was exciting. we were at the bars at 6:00 in the morning watching the gold medal game. and we had a lot of fun. things are -- everyone's coming home from sochi and i want to thank sochi , russia, for put on an amazing olympics and all the olympic athletes did a great job and, i think, more medals were won by more countries than ever before. shows the competition is rising and competition's great for you.

>> well, our congratulations to the canadian teams, as well. mayor ford, thanks, we'll take you up on your offer to visit you in a couple of months. i appreciate your time this morning.

>> thanks, matt, all the best.