EASTON -- What a difference a few hugs and a couple of handshakes can make.
When Gov. William Donald Schaefer stepped up to the microphone at a beach program ceremony yesterday morning in Ocean City, he numbed an already shivering crowd by announcing that he was in a deep funk.
"As you can see," Schaefer said in a monotone, "I'm not in the happiest mood. And the reason for that is no matter what you do, you're wrong."
And then, with a cold ocean wind smacking him in the back of the neck, the governor bemoaned the state's weak economy and said for the umpteenth time in recent days that those who criticize his spending don't understand what a tough job he has trying to make Maryland a better state.
But eight hours later at another ceremonial gathering in Caroline County, a tired but decidedly rosier Schaefer walked into the brisk night air and declared that it had been "a wonderful day."
What happened between the gloom on the dune and the spark in the dark?
For one thing, the governor couldn't have asked for a better public reception during his daylong Shore tour had his own staff planned each detail of his itinerary. Which, of course, they had.
He was applauded wherever he went and in Salisbury, where he listened to school kids talk about handling peer pressure to use drugs and alcohol, he was treated as if he were visiting royalty.
Schaefer's imposing Do-It-Now tour bus, carrying the governor and an entourage of staff members, was escorted through the city by police cruisers while other officers stopped traffic and saluted as the motorcade passed by.
And this was in the heart of the region he once impolitely described as an outhouse, only in stronger terms.
At a ground-breaking ceremony for a new medical center outside Berlin, longtime Schaefer booster Shirley Phillips worked up ......TC polite crowd by describing the governor as a man of "vision, commitment and courage."
"I think Shirley's been reading the newspapers and feels sorry for me," Schaefer said in reference to a column published yesterday that depicted the governor as a lonely, unfulfilled man about to turn 70.
Schaefer, who aides said was fuming over the column, told the crowd he stopped reading certain papers. "I use them for other purposes," he said, quickly adding that he wraps ducks in them.
Wearing his heart on his sleeve, the governor said he was "hurt inside" knowing that "I'm not welcome anymore" on the Eastern Shore because of the outhouse comparison he made last January.
He used to love to visit the Shore, he said. "And then you make a mistake. You make an unfortunate error. People hurt you for something you didn't mean."
At a luncheon in Salisbury, the governor said he was troubled over how to find money in a tough economy to fund programs for youths.
"Inside my guts are turning over," he said. "Where am I? What do I do?"
If there were any Schaefer bashers near by, they kept their thoughts to themselves.
One Salisbury resident, watching from his porch as the governor's entourage toured a neighborhood police station, said Schaefer is welcome on the Shore.
"There's no reason for him not to come 'round here," the resident said. "He's got a job to do just like anyone else."