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Former Md. governor touts McCain in Hagerstown

October 15, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN -- Former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. said it was relatively easy to support John McCain after Ehrlich's pick in the Republican presidential primary, Rudy Giuliani, was defeated.

"With John McCain, you really get what you see on TV," Ehrlich told a crowd Tuesday at Duffy's on Potomac in Hagerstown. "He is a relentless worker. When he is on your side, you love him, and when he's against you, you hate him. He's relentless in his pursuit of what he thinks is good policy for the United States of America."

Sometimes, McCain gets it wrong, the former Republican governor said, but working for Americans is always at the root of his decisions.

With nearly two decades in state and local politics, Ehrlich offered his opinion on many issues now facing the U.S., including the presidential election and the financial crisis, during a Decision '08 Election Series Dinner hosted by the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce.

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Ehrlich joked about an early advertisement for the event that listed Douglas M. Duncan, a Democrat, as a fellow speaker at Tuesday's dinner. Duncan withdrew claiming political pressure that could have cost him his University of Maryland job, but later apologized, and university officials said it was a misunderstanding.

On McCain's pick of Sarah Palin for his vice presidential running mate, Ehrlich said, "There's no rhyme or reason to (selecting) a vice president or a lieutenant governor."

For McCain, the fact that Palin is a woman, "and very aggressive at that," said to be a reformer and a maverick who took on the "old boy establishment," was appealing, Ehrlich said.

"I really thought he saw in her a lot of him," said Ehrlich, who served as Maryland's governor from 2003 to 2007.

Ehrlich favors legalizing slots, but said the referendum in the Nov. 4 general election will not work, and said amending the constitution to allow slots is a "very bad idea."

He said the referendum is not the solution to Maryland's large deficit and expected budget shortfalls.

Ehrlich said the state legislature has a history of relying on voters to make the tough decisions, and cited referendums in the 1980s and 1990s that decided abortion rights and gun laws.

"The only way they can send it to the voters is to make it an amendment," he said. "It's essentially a punt."

Asked by an audience member whether he would consider a run for national office, Ehrlich avoided committing himself either way.

"Nobody knows the future," he said. "In Maryland, as a Republican, you tend not to plan long-term."

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