Using a script approved by state Sen. Harry J. McGuirk, his gubernatorial running mate, and under the watchful eyes of two McGuirk aides, Lt. Gov. Samuel W. Bogley held a press conference today in an attempt to convince voters that he had complete confidence in the McGuirk-Bogley ticket.
But despite the careful scripting of the event, before it was over, the beleaguered Bogley had delivered yet another statement that forced McGuirk to claim that he and Bogley had "different perceptions."
The scenario was familiar: Bogley "clarifying" critical comments about a running mate. However, the running mate was not Gov. Harry Hughes, Bogley's boss for the last four years, but McGuirk, the Baltimore state senator with whom Bogley joined forces seven weeks ago to challenge Hughes.
The concept of a press conference came up Monday while McGuirk and Bogley were driving to a campaign appearance in Calvert County. Sources said McGuirk was less than delighted by Bogley's comments in a story in the Baltimore News American on Sunday, so he told Bogley that he could say anything he wanted during the campaign but, when talking about McGuirk, the senator wanted to be consulted first.
The following day, Bogley sent McGuirk a three-page statement, which McGuirk edited. Today, Bogley, speaking in his nervous, tentative way, said he believed McGuirk was totally committed to the campaign.
Then, in almost the same breath, Bogley, who admitted to being afflicted with "terminal candor," added that he, not McGuirk, had made the final decision on whether the two men would file for the race last month.
"He pretty much put it on my shoulders," Bogley said. "I was the one who had to make the decision; it was left to me. I was given the impression that if I were not his McGuirk's running mate he would probably not run for the office of governor."
"I guess it comes down to perceptions," McGuirk said later. "When I said to Sam he had to make a decision, I meant for him. I wasn't going to push him in any direction at that point. He had to make up his own mind.
"I started running for governor almost two years ago. That's all I've been doing, running for governor. Yet, people keep wondering what my hidden agenda is. Sam was my first choice as a running mate, but if he had turned me down, I would have asked someone else."
Bogley said at the press conference--his first in nearly four years as lieutenant governor--that he had been quoted accurately in the Sunday story and said he had discussed the concerns he had expressed in the story--largely about lack of staff and organization with only six weeks to go until the Sept. 14 primary--with McGuirk.
"He agreed with my concerns," Bogley said. "We now have a campaign manager in place and a press person and we're going to run an intensive six-week, I guess now really five-week, campaign. Harry made a point of calling my wife and me to let us know he wasn't upset with what I had said, that he wanted me to be open with the media and not spend the campaign in a closet."
This was not the first time Bogley has been in the position of clarifying statements made to the media. About a year ago, after a story in The Washington Post quoted him as saying he might run against Hughes for governor or run on an opposing ticket, Bogley issued a statement that he would not run against Hughes because "I still believe he is the best candidate."
Today, Bogley said he was leaving the running of the campaign to McGuirk because "as far as implementing and staging a statewide campaign, I'm not experienced, he is," although Bogley is in his second statewide race and MGuirk is in his first.
Bogley tried to shift the focus of the questioning from his relationship with McGuirk to the incumbent governor, with whom he split over the issue of Medicaid-funded abortions almost four years ago.
Bogley said the special session of the legislature on Friday would not have been necessary if Hughes had provided legislators with more information about the federal government's handling of unemployment benefits during the regular session. He also accused Hughes of trying to take credit during the campaign for legislation drafted and put through by legislators.
"The media consultants for the incumbent are on TV trying to create a new image for him," Bogley said, "one of a person capable of getting things done with other elected officials, one which I dispute from personal experience during the last four years."