Steele declines debate planned for Thursday

He will do it only under `proper terms,' he says

October 01, 2002|By Tim Craig | Tim Craig,SUN STAFF

The Republican nominee for lieutenant governor said yesterday he will not debate his Democratic counterpart Thursday - timing proposed by Maryland Public Television and accepted by the opposition.

Michael S. Steele, the running mate of Republican Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., said he would like to debate retired Adm. Charles R. Larson, the Democratic nominee, but only under the "the proper terms."

Steele said he first learned of Thursday's debate when he read about it in the newspaper yesterday.

"You don't dictate to me a time and place and say `show up,' " Steele said. "I don't work like that."

Peter Hamm, a spokesman for Larson and Democratic gubernatorial nominee Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, accused Steele of trying to duck the debate.

"The most well-kept political secret is beginning to crack at the seams," Hamm said. "The Ehrlich-Steele campaign is afraid to debate."

Shareese N. DeLeaver, an Ehrlich spokeswoman, replied, "These Burger King negotiations have got to end. They are not going to have it their way." The Sun reported yesterday that Larson had agreed to debate Steele on Thursday in a live broadcast from the MPT studio.

Robert J. Shuman, MPT's chief executive and president, said he called the campaigns of Townsend and Ehrlich on Saturday to invite Steele and Larson to the debate.

Larson accepted Sunday, but Steele said he never got the message. He can not debate Thursday because of prior commitments, he said.

Steele said he would work with the Townsend campaign and MPT to schedule another debate.

Townsend and Ehrlich had a debate last week. Both said they would like to debate again, but no meetings have been scheduled.

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