Glendening Seeks White House Help
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, October 6, 1998; Page A1
After rebuffing President Clinton during a visit to Maryland a month ago, Gov. Parris N. Glendening now is trying to draw the president back to the state to help revive his campaign's effort to stem a tough challenge from Republican Ellen R. Sauerbrey.
At the same time, senior White House officials said Clinton and Vice President Gore are both trying to broker peace among Maryland Democrats, especially trying to persuade Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and Prince George's County Executive Wayne K. Curry to put aside their differences with Glendening and endorse the governor.
Glendening's outreach to the White House reverses his posture from only a month ago, when he canceled a presidential fund-raiser, skipped a Clinton appearance in Silver Spring and said the president owed the country "a sincere, major apology" for his conduct with Monica S. Lewinsky.
The governor's effort to distance himself from the president may have backfired, especially among African American voters, who are among Clinton's strongest supporters and whose turnout at the polls Nov. 3 is considered critical to a Glendening victory. With polls suggesting that Sauerbrey is coming on strong, the governor is now seeking the president's help.
A senior Glendening administration official said talks are underway to bring Clinton to the state, and senior White House officials said the president was weighing a request from Maryland Democrats for a visit. A senior White House official said it is "very likely" that Clinton or Gore will come to Maryland before Election Day for a Glendening campaign event. First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton already is scheduled to headline a fund-raiser with Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend on Oct. 21.
Should a presidential visit be arranged, Glendening said yesterday, he would appear with Clinton. At an appearance with the first lady in Severna Park, the governor said that his past criticism of the president was the "right thing to do" as details of Clinton's liaisons became public, but that now Clinton has apologized and it is time for the country to move on.
Glendening criticized Republicans in Congress for unreasonableness in their impeachment inquiry. "I think it's time to rally behind this administration," he said. "This has been excessive. I think this is a lot of time and money being wasted."
Sauerbrey scoffed at Glendening's change of heart, noting that Glendening had initially cited his difficulty explaining the president's behavior to his son, Raymond. "How is Parris going to explain this to his 18-year-old son?" Sauerbrey asked, with a laugh. "This is a guy that can't shoot straight. His fund-raising efforts must be really desperate."
Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Prince George's) said many Democrats believe Glendening's criticism of the president was a mistake. "I don't know that I've talked to anyone who disagrees with that conclusion," he said.
Miller said he attributed much of the tightening of the governor's race to Glendening's criticism. "The campaign is still salvageable, but it needs a momentum shift," he said.
He said that a senior Glendening aide told him that the governor hoped to arrange an event at an African American church with Clinton and Schmoke. "Glendening needs it and wants it and his people are working it," Miller said.
With an eye on a presidential bid in 2000, Gore is working hard to develop allies among Democrats throughout the nation. White House officials said the president and vice president will work on Glendening's behalf.
"The president has worked tirelessly to elect Democrats around the country, and he'll work to elect Democrats in Maryland, and the top of that ticket is Parris Glendening," White House press secretary Joe Lockhart said.
The president and vice president also have been trying to persuade Schmoke to endorse Glendening. The two have been politically estranged since a dispute over whether the governor agreed to back legalized gambling in Baltimore. The mayor supported Harford County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann in her challenge of Glendening for the Democratic nomination.
In recent weeks, however, relations appear to have warmed between the mayor and the governor. The two have met, and over the weekend, the governor agreed to support a state takeover of costs of circuit courts in Baltimore and Maryland's 23 counties, a move Schmoke has long sought.
A senior White House official said "both sides" had sought Gore's help as an intermediary in negotiations. "It shows a willingness on both sides to put their past behind them, and we'd really like to help," the source said.
The White House officials said the negotiations were continuing this week with a goal of Friday for finishing plans for an event involving Glendening and Schmoke.
Schmoke's spokesman, Clinton Coleman, said he was unaware of any discussions the mayor may have had with the president.
In appearances with Hillary Clinton and abortion-rights advocates yesterday, Glendening also tried to energize a key constituency female voters in his bid to prevent Sauerbrey from becoming Maryland's first female governor.
Despite Sauerbrey's promise to leave Maryland's basic abortion-access laws intact, Glendening predicted she would revert to her more actively antiabortion past if elected Nov. 3. Claiming that Sauerbrey is trying to ignore her record, the governor told a women's rally in Annapolis, "The record does matter because it tells you what is going to happen in the future."
The Glendening campaign noted that as a state legislator, Sauerbrey campaigned against a 1992 referendum that codified the Roe v. Wade abortion-rights language into Maryland law, and that she voted against a 1989 measure aimed at keeping protesters from blocking abortion clinic entrances.
Sauerbrey has said she would not attempt to overturn the basic laws that make abortion available in most cases. But she publicly supports three changes: toughening parental notification requirements for minors having abortions, banning what abortion opponents call "partial-birth" abortions and barring state-paid abortions for poor women.
Sauerbrey "has made it very clear that her legislative priorities will be better schools, safer streets and lower taxes," said her campaign spokesman, Jim Dornan.
Staff writers John F. Harris and Charles Babington contributed to this report.
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