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Political Records, Race Stir Friction in Cardin-Mfume Md. Senate Debate

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DeepModem Mom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 09:22 AM
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Political Records, Race Stir Friction in Cardin-Mfume Md. Senate Debate
WP: Political Records, Race Stir Friction in Md. Senate Debate
By Philip Rucker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, August 21, 2006; Page B01

The most spirited moment of the first one-on-one debate since April between Maryland's two leading Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate yesterday wasn't over foreign or domestic policies. It was about the role of race in a potentially historic election that could pit two black candidates against each other.

For most of the 30-minute debate recorded last week and televised yesterday morning on WJLA (Channel 7), Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin and former representative Kweisi Mfume revealed few differences on major issues: Both oppose the war in Iraq and President Bush's energy policies. Both support universal health care and increasing federal funding for education.

The candidates did not attack each other, were cordial and appeared relaxed. The starkest difference came in the way they framed their candidacies less than one month before Democrats select their nominee from a crowded field of 18 hopefuls: Cardin presented himself as a lawmaker proud of his record, and Mfume painted himself as an outside agent of change.

With the final question, co-moderator and news anchor Leon Harris asked Cardin about the chance that Mfume and Republican candidate Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, both of whom are black, could face each other in the general election: "Don't you think that the Democratic Party and the country might be better served by having one of them represent the state?" Harris asked Cardin.

Cardin rattled off things he has done in Congress and as speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates before that to benefit minorities. "I have a record of inclusion," Cardin said, noting that he fought for minority-owned businesses, worked to diversify the House staff and appointed the first black chairman of the state House Ways and Means Committee....
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