- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean — who previously ducked questions about the propriety of racial attacks on Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele — yesterday disavowed such campaign tactics.

“I oppose any effort to make an issue of a candidate’s ethnicity in a political campaign, including in the Maryland Senate race,” Mr. Dean said.

He issued the written statement after Maryland Republican Party Chairman John M. Kane prodded him to apologize for remarks he made Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

On the program, Mr. Dean avoided questions about racial attacks on Mr. Steele, a candidate for next year’s Senate race in Maryland, who has been smeared as an “Uncle Tom” and an “Oreo” — slurs that some Democratic lawmakers contend are fair comment because Mr. Steele is a conservative black Republican.

The lawmakers’ comments have been repudiated by prominent black Maryland Democrats such as Rep. Elijah E. Cummings of Baltimore, Rep. Albert R. Wynn of Prince George’s County and U.S. Senate candidate Kweisi Mfume, former president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

However, U.S. Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, the Democratic front-runner in the Senate race, refused to disavow the remarks, as did the leading Democrats in the governor’s race, Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan and Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley.

Mr. Dean also declined to condemn campaign race-baiting in Maryland when he appeared on “Meet the Press.”

“I didn’t hear [Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman] condemn the chairman of the Maryland party when he called me an anti-Semite,” Mr. Dean told program host Tim Russert. “So far, I’ve been called a racist, a terrorist, an abortionist and anti-Semitic.”

Mr. Kane yesterday said Mr. Dean’s statement was “wholly incorrect” and demanded an apology. He called the remark “a pathetic attempt to excuse the racist comments and treatment leveled against Steele.”

A day after the program, Mr. Dean responded by issuing the written statement, but declined to apologize.

His written statement also accused Republican officials of disenfranchising black voters.

“I also call on Chairman Mehlman to join me in condemning Republican secretaries of state who continue to make it harder for African-Americans around the country to exercise their right to vote,” Mr. Dean said.

Republican National Committee spokesman Danny Diaz said Mr. Dean was still dodging the issues.

“Whether it is answering a question about what his party stands for … or whether it is repudiating racist attacks against Michael Steele, it seems Chairman Dean is incapable of speaking to the issue,” he said.

Mr. Dean’s statement came with text that recounted Mr. Dean’s demand in February for an apology from New York Republican Chairman Stephen Minarik, who compared Mr. Dean to Lynne F. Stewart, a lawyer convicted for aiding terrorists.

The text appeared to indicate that Mr. Dean mistakenly referred to the party chairman in Maryland in place of the one in New York.

The DNC also circulated an e-mail that quoted Mr. Kane in May describing Mr. Dean as the “socialist-endorsing party chairman,” an apparent reference to Mr. Dean endorsing the Senate run of U.S. Rep. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, a registered independent and self-described “democratic socialist.”

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