CHEVY CHASE – That was Gov. Parris N. Glendening grinning beside Vice President Al Gore at a campaign event here Friday. And that was him in Missouri subbing for the Democratic nominee earlier in the week.
As the presidential campaign heats up, Gore is turning increasingly to Glendening, chairman of the National Governors’ Association, for help on the stump.
For the record, the governor’s recent appearances as a Gore stand-in: Sept. 22, Glendening hit Delaware to discuss children’s health issues for Gore; Tuesday, he arrived in Washington and touted Gore’s policies in an environmental debate with Bush supporters; Wednesday, he filled in for the vice president in Missouri; Thursday, he stopped at a few New Hampshire senior centers to detail the differences between the Bush and Gore stances on Medicare; and Friday, in this affluent inside-the-Beltway Washington suburb, he put off packing for a two-week whirlwind tour of three African countries to introduce the vice president.
Despite his high-profile stumping for Gore, Glendening continues to deny he is seeking a Cabinet position in a Gore White House.
Speculation about the governor’s federal desires abounded this summer when he rose to chairman of the National Governors’ Association, a highly visible national post.
“Oh, no, no, no. I am loving being governor,” he said when asked this week if he was stumping for Gore for that reason. “I support Gore’s policies.”
Gore staffers are less cynical about Glendening’s reasons for pinch- hitting for the vice president so frequently.
“The two are obviously very close,” said Gore spokesman Chris Lehane.
Individual Cabinet positions have not been discussed, said Dan Pfeiffer, another spokesman for the Gore campaign.
“We’re focused entirely on winning the election in November,” he said. “The governor and the lieutenant governor (Kathleen Kennedy Townsend) have been big supporters of Gore.”
At Friday’s Chevy Chase campaign stop – where Gore used the wooded headquarters of the Audubon Naturalist Society to talk about energy and the environment – the vice president took a good-natured dig at both himself and Glendening.
“If you entrust me with the presidency, I’ve said it before, I know I won’t always be the most exciting politician,” Gore said. He then paused, deviated from his prepared speech and added, “like Parris Glendening.”
Gore’s teasing and self-deprecating remark alluded to both politicians’ well-known stiff speaking styles. It drew howls of laughter from the gaggle of Gore and Glendening supporters in the audience.
The Maryland Republican Party was quick to criticize Glendening’s stumping.
“It’s no secret that he’s looking for a job in a Gore administration,” said Paul Ellington, state GOP executive director. “We need a full time governor. I’d like to see him spend as much time pursuing economic development as he does on the campaign trail.”
Stumping for Democrats is nothing new for Glendening. He appeared on behalf of his party in Philadelphia during the Republican National Convention this year. But the frequency of his campaigning for Gore has increased over the past week, and should pick up as Nov. 7 draws closer.
Glendening heads to Africa on Saturday for two weeks on official Maryland business – not to campaign for Gore. In three African countries – Senegal, South Africa, and Ghana – Glendening will meet with local heads of state, academics, business leaders, and other dignitaries.
The vice president’s campaign expects Glendening will continue his frequent stumping for Gore when he returns, Pfeiffer said. Capital News Service Writer Rachel Brown contributed to this story.