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Gansler reportedly says gender matters when it comes to teen drinking — and gets rebuked

Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler met with reporters last week to explain his actions during a June visit to a teenage house party. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

In newly reported comments Monday, Maryland gubernatorial candidate Douglas F. Gansler said parents might view underage drinking differently depending on the gender of their child, a sentiment that drew a sharp rebuke from one of his rivals.

The Baltimore Sun on Monday published additional excerpts from an interview last week with Gansler, the state’s attorney general, regarding a teenage beach house party he attended in Bethany Beach, Del., where there was apparent underage drinking.

During the interview, which took place in a diner, Gansler was approached by a woman who asked to have her photo taken with him, according to the Sun. Gansler drew the woman into the conversation about whether parents should intervene in such situations, the Sun said.

After the woman left, Gansler said having a daughter might factor into a parent’s judgment on how to react. “It also has to do with whether you have a boy or a girl,” he said, according to the Sun.

Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery), who is also seeking the Democratic nomination in June, said she was “deeply troubled” by Gansler’s comments.

Gansler “appears to be saying that the safety of some children is more important than that of others, or that young girls need guidance and protection from their parents and other trusted adults that boys do not,” Mizeur said. “The dangers of underage and binge drinking have been well-documented, and for the attorney general to suggest that it’s only a problem for young women, as he appears to be doing, is tragically wrong and indicates that he doesn’t understand the larger issues at stake here.”

Gansler campaign spokesman Bob Wheelock later said “some people are trying to twist Doug’s words.”

“Doug believes that as parents, we need to commit ourselves to preventing underage drinking for all of our children, boys and girls,” Wheelock said. “Period.”

Wheelock said the campaign is not taking issue with the Sun report.

During last week’s interview with the Sun, Gansler said his teenage son was not drinking when he stopped by briefly to talk to him at the “beach week” party and that he had no moral authority to intervene with other people’s children. At a news conference the following day, Gansler acknowledged that he should have done more to assess whether underage drinking was taking place.

The party took place in a rental house where Gansler’s son was staying with about a dozen recent graduates of the Landon School in Bethesda.

The Democratic primary also includes Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D).

John Wagner is a political reporter covering the race for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.



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