Md. Senate Candidates Bicker in Debate

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By KRISTEN WYATT
The Associated Press
Thursday, October 26, 2006; 2:26 AM

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Maryland's Senate candidates bickered over embryonic stem cell research and the war in Iraq during a televised debate Wednesday as each sought to portray himself as the most independent.

The three candidates _ Democratic Rep. Ben Cardin, Republican Lt. Gov. Michael Steele and Kevin Zeese, nominee of the Libertarian, Green and Populist parties _ disagreed, sometimes angrily, over who was best suited to replace retiring Democrat Paul Sarbanes.

Actor Michael J. Fox, who has Parkinson's disease, has backed Cardin for his support of government funding of embryonic stem cell research, an endorsement some Republicans have called inappropriate.

Steele said he supported most kinds of stem cell research, but not when the research destroys a human embryo. He also said criticisms of Fox's endorsement were "over the line."

Cardin, who beat former Rep. and NAACP president Kweisi Mfume in the primary, mentioned that he voted against going to war in Iraq and would fight President Bush and GOP leaders.

"You keep saying you voted against the war in Iraq. We applaud you for that," said Steele, who went on to criticize how Cardin has voted since then.

Moderator Bruce DePuyt of Washington-area TV station WJLA asked Steele if he thought Cardin made the correct vote against the war.

"No. I think it was a wrong-headed vote. But he stood for something," Steele said.

Zeese, a former spokesman for frequent presidential candidate Ralph Nader, called his opponents the hand-picked choices of major party leaders.

The three debate Thursday at an NAACP forum, and Cardin and Steele meet Sunday on NBC's "Meet The Press."

___

BOSTON (AP) _ Republican Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey, trailing badly in the polls, warned in a debate Wednesday that tax-happy Democrats already are celebrating victory by her opponent.


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© 2006 The Associated Press

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