- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 19, 2002

BALTIMORE Former President Bill Clinton gave Democratic gubernatorial candidate Kathleen Kennedy Townsend a strong endorsement last night and raised $500,000 for her campaign during a rally and reception.
Speaking to about 6,000 mostly black prospective voters at Coppin State College, Mr. Clinton said Mrs. Townsend is the "finest lieutenant governor in the United States." He said electing a good governor is essential in bad economic times.
Mr. Clinton told Marylanders to beware of a claim by the Republican gubernatorial candidate, Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., about being a "different" Republican.
"There is a difference between rhetoric and reality," Mr. Clinton said. "In this case, the reality is Republican and the rhetoric is different."
The rally was followed by three fund-raising receptions at the Wyndham Hotel at the Inner Harbor, including two for Mrs. Townsend's campaign.
Supporters paid $4,000 a plate to have dinner with the former president. The price to attend the other Townsend reception was $1,000. The third reception was a $100 a person fund-raiser for the Maryland Democratic Party.
Mr. Clinton's endorsement is expected to boost the campaign of Mrs. Townsend, who is in a close race with Mr. Ehrlich.
Recent polls show she is leading Mr. Ehrlich by just one point.
Marylanders have not elected a Republican governor since Spiro T. Agnew in 1966.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, raised $100,000 for Mrs. Townsend at a rally Wednesday to garner more female votes.
Mrs. Clinton said Mrs. Townsend was "ready to take the next step to lead Maryland into the next century with vision, vigor and enthusiasm."
Democrats Rep. Elijah E. Cummings and Sens. Barbara A. Mikulski and Paul S. Sarbanes also spoke at last night's rally.
They were joined by Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley, a Democrat and who earlier this year considered running for governor.
He said Mrs. Townsend's initiatives on drug treatment and youth programs have helped Baltimore.
"Our city is not perfect Mr. President," Mr. O'Malley told Mr. Clinton. "But thanks to Democrats, it is headed the right way."
Mrs. Townsend's campaign staff said she and Mr. Clinton share a close friendship and have a mutual respect for each other's stances on such issues as education, health care, the environment and gun-control laws.
Mrs. Townsend said she was a fan of Mr. Clinton and thanked him for making America a worldwide symbol of freedom and justice.
She also promised to make America proud of Baltimore, if elected governor.
With 18 days remaining before the Nov. 5 election, candidates are increasingly enlisting the help of party celebrities to enrich their war chests and pull in voters.

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