- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 12, 2007

TOWSON, Md. — Former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. said yesterday he spent two months as governor before taking the advice of Rudolph W. Giuliani and President Bush: Don’t read news articles about yourself.

“I sat down and had a talk with myself,” Mr. Ehrlich told a roomful of Towson University students in professor Richard Vatz’s persuasion class. “When you get to the executive [branch] you really have to be careful with that stuff because it’s much more personal.”

Mr. Ehrlich in November lost his re-election bid to Martin O’Malley, a Democrat. However, he has maintained a public presence through co-hosting a weekend radio show and doing campaign work for Mr. Giuliani, a Republican presidential hopeful. Mr. Ehrlich also has a book coming that he says will follow conservative writer Ann Coulter’s style of “going beyond the pale” to sell copies.

Mr. Ehrlich, 49, yesterday talked mostly about his time in office, but also discussed politics today in Annapolis, predicting that slot machines would be legalized and large tax increases would be passed during a special session this year.

Mr. Ehrlich also praised House Minority Leader Anthony J. O’Donnell, Southern Maryland Republican, and Senate Minority Leader David R. Brinkley, Western Maryland Republican, whom he called two rising stars in the state party.

“I thought they did terrific jobs,” in the 2007 General Assembly, Mr. Ehrlich said. “But the problem is without the executive branch and without the votes, they have limited ability to impact the debate.”

Mr. Ehrlich’s guest lectures in Mr. Vatz’s class have been routine since his days in the House of Delegates.

“Governor Ehrlich, the students ostensibly did not know you were coming, but when I told them an unnamed guest would be coming, there were knowing smiles from the more perspicacious students,” Mr. Vatz said.

Mr. Ehrlich said mental toughness is an essential leadership quality, especially when facing criticism from the press.

Mr. Ehrlich famously battled with the reporters during his four years as governor, eventually barring state employees from talking to some of them.

Many students were receptive to Mr. Ehrlich’s arguments, saying they thought the press has different standards for conservatives and liberals.

However, one student pointed out the liberal press has been relentless on shock jock Don Imus, a liberal, who made racist comments about members of the Rutgers University women’s basketball team.

“He’s probably going to be fired, and he’s from the left,” said Russell Wilkin, 21, a senior psychology major. “So that completely contradicts what [Mr. Ehrlich] is saying.” [Mr. Imus was fired by CBS yesterday]

Mr. Ehrlich’s wide-ranging discussion moved from the volumes of books written about leadership to perceived racist attacks on his former lieutenant governor, Michael S. Steele.

While talking about the difference between being attractive and being charismatic and having the amorphous political asset known as “it,” he asked the women in the class if they thought Mr. Giuliani was attractive.

A same number raised their hands.

He followed with an offhand nod to the square-shouldered Mr. O’Malley, saying “I’m not going to go down to the state level with this.”

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