SILVER SPRING – A month after he publicly reprimanded President Clinton, Gov. Parris Glendening stood arm-in-arm with the president Tuesday at a Montgomery County elementary school.
After extending “a warm welcome to our president” before a crowd of cheering sixth graders and parents at Forest Knolls Elementary School, Glendening told Clinton that “we are proud of you.”
It was an about-face from last month, when Glendening skipped a similar school appearance with the president and canceled a planned fund-raiser with Clinton, who he said “should apologize and show remorse” for his affair with Monica Lewinsky.
The governor feels Clinton has done so, said Peter Hamm, a spokesman for Glendening’s campaign, which is why the two men appeared together Tuesday.
“He accepted the president’s apology and moved on,” said Hamm. “The governor is very proud to be here with the president.”
Republican gubernatorial candidate Ellen Sauerbrey would not comment on the governor’s appearance with the president, her campaign aides said Tuesday.
But Sauerbrey, who is running neck-and-neck in the race with Glendening, strongly criticized his change of heart last week, when the governor announced he would again be supporting Clinton.
That support was evident Tuesday at Forest Knolls, where Clinton and Glendening accused the Congress of blocking an education initiative of the president’s that is aimed at hiring more teachers and reducing class sizes.
After expressing what “a pleasure it is to be here today,” the governor began many sentences on the issue of education with, “You are right, Mr. President.”
Clinton returned the favor, moving Tuesday to make amends with the governor who spurned him.
Although he was surrounded by powerful Democratic lawmakers, including Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., Senate Minority Leader Thomas Daschle, D-S.D., and House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt, D-Mo., the president appeared intent on standing next to Glendening. Clinton often leaned over and whispered to Glendening and laughed at the governor’s jokes.
“I want to thank Gov. Glendening and Lt. Gov. [Kathleen Kennedy] Townsend for their extraordinary leadership,” Clinton said. “If I was a governor today, I would be paying a lot of attention to Maryland.”
Neither man responded to a reporter’s shouted question after the event about their apparent reconciliation. As soon as the speeches ended, children’s music blared over the school public address system, drowning out any questions.
But at least one man in the crowd said that he felt Glendening had political reasons to make amends.
“He has to fix his image of his relationship with the president,” said Mel Hardy, a volunteer at Forest Knolls. “Nov. 3 is not that far away and he will have to support Clinton to get the Democratic vote.”