While Maryland Republicans gathered yesterday in the Houston Astrodome, Democratic Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski took a trolley to Eastern Boulevard in Essex, where she opened her first joint campaign office with the Democrats' Clinton-Gore presidential campaign.
It was part of an election swing through eastern Baltimore and Baltimore County timed as a counterpoint to the hoopla in Houston, and Ms. Mikulski did her best to out-shout the GOP.
"We are in a war for America's future," she told about 100 party regulars and volunteers who gathered at midday in the Teamsters Local 311 headquarters at 416 Eastern Blvd.
"We need a new commander in chief, and that's why I'm supporting Bill Clinton for president and Al Gore for vice president," she said.
In Republican incumbent George Bush, Ms. Mikulski said, "we have a president of the United States who . . . wants to put our jobs on a fast track to Mexico and on a slow boat to China. We need those jobs here."
Her audience -- including many elderly loyalists who remember when factories in eastern Baltimore County offered residents abundant, well-paid jobs -- cheered enthusiastically.
The senator, who is being challenged for re-election by Republican Alan L. Keyes, toured the county with other Democratic candidates, among them 2nd District congressional challenger Michael C. Hickey Jr., who faces an uphill fight to unseat the Republican incumbent, Helen Delich Bentley.
Ms. Mikulski asked her audience to support her proposed auto-labeling legislation, which would require auto manufacturers NTC to tell consumers how much of their cars are manufactured in other countries.
She also called for affordable health care for all Americans and expansion of federal student loan programs to make money available to middle class students.
"We need to say 'Yes' to kids who said 'No' to drugs and 'Yes' to homework," she said, adding that the tuition aid could be paid for by demanding payments from "deadbeats" who haven't repaid such loans in the past.
The joint Democratic campaign office at the Teamsters Hall in Essex will serve campaign efforts and voter registration drives in the 2nd Congressional District.
It is one of several planned across the state.
A second is scheduled to open today in Kensington, Montgomery County.