Gore Headlines Maryland Campaign Event

Tom Stuckey
Associated Press
Monday, November 6, 2006; 7:47 PM

SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) -- Former Vice President Al Gore made an election-eve visit to Maryland Monday, joining Democratic gubernatorial candidate Martin O'Malley and Senate candidate Ben Cardin at a get-out-the-vote rally at a Montgomery County retirement community.

Gore was the only national heavyweight from either party to campaign in the state on a day when Republican Gov. Robert Ehrlich wound up his campaign with a rally near his boyhood home in Baltimore County and Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, the party's Senate nominee, continued what his campaign described as an around-the-clock campaign tour that he had started on Sunday.

With the outlook uncertain in both top-of-the-ticket races, the candidates and their surrogates scratched for every possible vote in the final hours of the campaign.

Volunteers called potential voters from phone banks run by the campaigns and the state Democratic and Republican parties, and the four candidates -- plus Republican lieutenant governor candidate Kristen Cox and Anthony Brown, O'Malley's running mate -- hurried from one stop to the other shaking hands, holding rallies and encouraging volunteers to work harder.

Gore's appearance at Leisure World attracted an overflow crowd of more than 300 to hear the former vice president and a host of Maryland Democratic officials, including O'Malley, Cardin attorney general candidate Doug Gansler and comptroller nominee Peter Franchot.

Gore spoke of the importance of the Cardin-Steele race to Democratic hopes of regaining control of the U.S. Senate.

"It may come down to right here," he said.

Congress has abdicated its responsibility to hold President Bush accountable for his failures, and a Democratic House and Senate are needed to ask the tough questions Republican leaders are not asking, Gore said.

He said Baltimore under O'Malley has had "the most competent, most cutting edge ... administration of any city in the country."

"Please don't take anything for granted. These are close races," Gore said.

Ehrlich returned to southwestern Baltimore County to end his campaign at a rally in the heart of Arbutus, where campaign commercials played on a giant screen and supporters chanted "four more years."

The Republican governor spoke from the back of a tow truck decorated with a dozen Maryland flags. He was joined by two Democrats, former Gov. Marvin Mandel and Baltimore City Councilman Nicholas D'Adamo.

"We have a record of accomplishment in this government and we haven't whined. People expect leadership, and that's what we've done," Ehrlich said.

Steele began an around-the-clock campaign schedule on Sunday, pausing only 45 minutes overnight for a nap, said Doug Heye, a campaign spokesman. The lieutenant governor toured coffee shops, grocery stores and went bowling. He also met with a group of ministers and, late in the day, shook hands with commuters getting off a train from Washington.

Cardin said at the Gore rally that the nation is moving in the wrong direction and a Democratic Senate and House are needed to set a new course.

"This election is about what type of country do we want to leave to our children and grandchildren," he told an audience of mostly older residents at the retirement community.

O'Malley criticized what he said were negative campaign commercials by the governor, drawing laughter from the crowd when he said, "Thank goodness, we won't see them on TV in 24 hours."

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Associated Press Writer Alex Dominguez in Arbutus contributed to this report.

© 2006 The Associated Press