Steele Gets Some Help in His Corner as Boxing Promoter Tries to Attract Black Voters

Michael S. Steele, left, and promoter Don King visit a Baltimore boxing center. The GOP candidate would help the Senate relate to the
Michael S. Steele, left, and promoter Don King visit a Baltimore boxing center. The GOP candidate would help the Senate relate to the "left-outs," King says. (By Gail Burton -- Associated Press)

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By Ann E. Marimow and John Wagner
Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Boxing promoter Don King brought his flag-waving, rhinestone-wearing, Bible-quoting flair to Senate candidate Michael S. Steele 's campaign yesterday, imploring black voters in particular to act as "apostles" in turning out next month for the African American candidate.

King, with his trademark shock of unruly gray hair, stood arm in arm with the lieutenant governor before a friendly audience at a Largo cafe before heading to Baltimore. He urged voters in the overwhelmingly Democratic state to ignore party labels and embrace the Republican nominee in the general election Nov. 7.

"We're talking about Maryland. We're not talking about Democrats or Republicans," said King, who teamed up with Steele in 2004 to campaign for President Bush.

King quickly pounced on what he considered a dearth of diversity at the top of the Democratic ticket in Maryland, lamenting former NAACP president Kweisi Mfume 's second-place finish in the party's U.S. Senate primary last month.

"The change will come if you find a black that is qualified," King said of Steele. "We'll put some color in that Senate that will give them an identification and a relation with those who have been the left-outs. What we want to do is to be included."

The flamboyant figure delivered, attracting 10 TV cameras. But on one front, he perhaps delivered the wrong message.

King unabashedly professed his love for Bush for putting blacks in prominent positions in his administration. Throughout the campaign, Steele's Democratic opponent, Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin , has tried to use Steele's connections to the unpopular president against him.

When asked whether he shared King's love for Bush, Steele turned to the Bible: "My mother taught me as a young boy to love my neighbor as myself."

Ehrlich Tax Role at Issue

"Governor Ehrlich cuts employment insurance taxes," trumpeted a news release yesterday from the office of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr ., who is running for reelection.

The reduction in 2007 by the Republican "will directly impact employers in the state" and "is part of Governor Ehrlich's push to create a business-friendly economy in Maryland," according to the release.

There was only one problem: Ehrlich had no direct role in lowering the tax rate, legislative aides said.

Under a 1995 law, the rate is automatically adjusted each year depending on the amount of money in the state's unemployment insurance fund.


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