- The Washington Times - Monday, November 14, 2005

The chairman of the Republican Party yesterday challenged his Democratic counterpart to condemn racist statements against Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, but Howard Dean demanded his own apology and ignored the question.

The former Vermont governor was asked by host Tim Russert on NBC’s “Meet the Press” to respond to the statements, in an appearance that Mr. Dean insisted be separate from an interview with Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman.

Mr. Dean gave no response, aside from saying he didn’t receive an apology for being called an anti-Semite by a member of the Republican Party.

Mr. Steele, a Republican candidate for the Senate, is the first black elected to statewide office in Maryland, where Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller Jr. labeled him an “Uncle Tom” in 2001. Some black political leaders maintain that Mr. Steele is not exempt from racial comments because of his political views.

“There’s been an utter silence in response to what have been vicious and racist attacks on Michael Steele in Maryland,” Mr. Mehlman said.

Mr. Mehlman on “Meet the Press” called on Mr. Dean to “condemn this kind of racist and bigoted activity. It’s wrong.”

“He’s had racial epithets thrown at him. He’s been derided on a Web site that the Democrats have. And while some Democrats in Maryland have criticized it, there’s been utter silence from national Democrats on this important issue,” Mr. Mehlman said.

“I would also hope he’d condemn the following: There are a whole bunch of Democratic candidates and Republican candidates around the country. But Charles Schumer and the [Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee] chose one candidate [Mr. Steele] to go after his credit report and engage in identity theft against him,” Mr. Mehlman said.

Mr. Russert put forth both questions to Mr. Dean, who said “moral values” should bring a “better tone in our political campaigns.”

“I don’t like that stuff,” Mr. Dean said of the credit-report incident.

Mr. Dean declined to address the statements against Mr. Steele, but said, “I didn’t hear Ken condemning the chairman of the Maryland party when he called me an anti-Semite.”

Mr. Dean, whose wife is Jewish, did joust with the head of the New York Republican party, but a LexisNexis search does not show that John M. Kane, Maryland’s Republican Party leader, was involved.

In February, New York Republican Party Chairman Stephen Minarik compared Mr. Dean to Lynne F. Stewart, a lawyer convicted for smuggling messages from her jailed client, a radical Egyptian sheik, to outside terrorist cells, the Buffalo News reported.

“So far I’ve been called a racist, a terrorist, an abortionist, and anti-Semitic,” Mr. Dean said.

His communications office did not return a call for comment.

Matt Drudge reported yesterday on his Web site that NBC producers have been pitching for a joint appearance between the two party leaders and that Mr. Mehlman also asked Mr. Dean to appear alongside him moments before the Sunday political talk show was taped.

“I was hoping that Chairman Dean would be on sitting next to me this morning. Maybe we can do that on a future program,” Mr. Mehlman said to Mr. Russert.

Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe appeared five times on “Meet the Press” with former Republican leaders Ed Gillespie, Marc Racicot and James S. Gilmore III.

Meanwhile, all four leaders of the House and Senate political campaign committees appeared together on ABC’s “This Week.”

Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois squared off against National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Sen. Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina and National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Rep. Tom Reynolds of New York.

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