Hours after Prince George's County Executive Winfield M. Kelly Jr. made what he admitted was a serious blunder during the tape of a debate Thursday night, Republican challenger Lawrence J. Hogan began a full-scale effort to attract as large an audience as possible for the showing of the debate at 7:30 tonight on WRC-TV (Channel 4).
Hogan, who only two days ago had dismissed the television debates with Kelly as "counter productive," yesterday shelled out more than $1,200 in campaign funds to promote the WRC-TV debate in newspaper ads and a series of 19 commercials on WMAL radio. Hogan also set up two telephone banks at his headquarters to contact undecided voters in the country and urge them to watch the show.
"We think it's devastating," said Hogan's press aide, Lewis Helm. "All people have to do is watch it, and we're going to make sure they do."
Kelly's blunder, which he has since apologized for, came near the end of the taping when he was trying to say that Hogan was intentionally misrepresenting the county executive's record in several areas. Kelly told his interviewers that he had met privately with Hogan on three separate occasions in an effort to convince Hogan that he was distorting the facts.
"Where?" asked a bewildered Hogan.
When Kelly said one of the meetings was at his campaign office, Hogan turned to the camera in an innocent deadpan and said: "I don't even know where his campaign office is.Winnie, you're desperate you've lost touch. You've gone beserk."
Kelly, red-faced and stuttering started to say that he knew where Hogan's campaign office was, a totally irrelevant point, before he caught himself, backtracked, and said that he had shown Hogan some budget charts during the taping of an earlier debate and at other forums.
Kelly admitted after the tapping that he had never met privately or publicly with Hogan during the campaign. "It was just a mistake I made in the heat of the moment. I was frustrated and forgot what I was saying," Kelly said yesterday. "It was a slip of the dialogue."
Although the question of whether Kelly and Hogan met privately or publicly - or at all - is relatively insignificant, Hogan believes that his opponent's discussion of meeting that never took place could become an important factor in this campaign, which from the beginning has found the two men challenging one another's credibility.
"We wouldn't have promoted the debate if Kelly hadn't gone off the deep end there," said Helm. "We think it gives our side a pretty good case."
Kelly's top aide, John A. Lally, said yesterday that he did not expect the blunder to hurt seriously his boss's reelection effort. "That was just one moment of confusion," said Lally. "The rest of the debate clearly shows that Hogan was calculatingly distorting the facts. Actually, I think it's great that Hogan's promoting the debate."
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munity revitalization program managed by the Small Business Administration, County Executive Winfield M. Kelly announced yesterday.
According to Paul Gilbert, director of the county's Neighborhood Business Revitalization Office, which is conordinating the loan arrangments, the program could result in up to $80 million in loans to local small businesses during the next year.
Under a complex formula of loan guarantees, the SBA will supplement every $1 million of bank loans with another $9 million through guaranteed notes.
Loans made through the program may be used to purchase land, and to pruchase, expand, convert, construct, or modernize buildings. Businesses qualifying for the program must have total assets less than $9 million and average net worth after taxes of $400,000 or less.
Under the terms of the SBA program, the loans must be administered by local development companies, established for the purpose of the program and consisting of local businessmen and community leaders.
The lending money of the local development companies, Gilbert said, will come from federal community development block grants, which are administered by the county.
The Prince George's neighborhood revitalization office has already organized a countywide local development company and will organize local companies in Bladensburg, Mount Rainier and Suitland, Gilbert said. THe county staff will act as liaison between the local grant-administering companies, the banks, and the SBA.