By andrea Grossman
PHILADELPHIA – Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening crashed the Republicans’ party Monday.
Glendening was in Philadelphia as part of a Democratic National Committee effort to blunt the Republicans’ message of unity at their convention. He spoke at a labor hall in the morning, then took the Democratic message to the media tents outside the convention hall.
“We are here, really, to bring the facts,” the governor said.
Glendening, who said he was sent to the convention by Vice President Al Gore, was as on point with the Democrats’ message Monday as Republicans have been with their message this week. Surrounded by an entourage that announced his presence as it moved through the news tents, Glendening held a sort of rolling news conference in which he touted the Democrat’s commitment to diversity, the environment and gun control.
Glendening questioned the ties of likely GOP nominee George W. Bush and his running mate Dick Cheney to the oil industry. Both men have worked as oil company executives.
Glendening also criticized the Republicans for trying to portray themselves as a diverse party. While women, Hispanics and blacks are among the convention’s featured speakers, Glendening characterized that as little more than window-dressing, claiming that 90 percent of the Republican delegates are white males and 20 percent are millionaires.
“This is clear this is not this is not the in this is not the inclusive party,” he said.
Members of Maryland’s Republican delegation defended the inclusiveness of their party – but said they would like to have excluded Glendening’s attacks.
“What is wrong with the oil industry that supplies energy that allows our businesses to run and our houses to be heated?” Ellen Sauerbrey asked, in response to Glendening’s attacks on Bush’s and Cheney’s work ties. Sauerbrey, who lost gubernatorial bids to Glendening in 1994 and 1998, is chairwoman of the Maryland Republican delegation here.
State Delegate John Leopold, R-Anne Arundel, who is also a delegate to the convention, said it would be difficult for the Democrats to upset the balance of the event.
“The momentum behind Governor Bush’s candidacy is so powerful, the effects made by the opposition party to distract attention are ineffective,” he said.
State Delegate Anthony O’Donnell, R-Calvert, and another delegate to the convention, agreed with Leopold that the positive message of the convention would offset the negative message Glendening tried to deliver Monday.
“It was a complete and total lack of class (for Glendening) to come to this convention,” O’Donnell said.