Clinton backs Townsend at rally

Lieutenant governor, N.Y. senator address gun issue during fund-raiser

October 17, 2002|By David Nitkin | David Nitkin,SUN STAFF

BETHESDA -- More than 1,000 people packed a Montgomery County hotel room last night as a current New York senator helped the daughter of a former New York senator in her bid to become Maryland's next governor.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend referred to gun control during a fund-raising event oriented toward women -- a further sign that the sniper shootings are having an effect on the race for governor.

"Now, all of a sudden, there is a national conversation on ballistics fingerprinting," Clinton said. "People are saying, `Didn't Maryland do that? Didn't Kathleen Kennedy Townsend talk about that?'"

Maryland and New York are the only states that have gun fingerprinting systems. They apply only to handguns, not to rifles, and only to guns sold in the state. Townsend, the daughter of former Sen. and U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, continued to draw distinctions with Republican Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. on gun issues.

"We do need a governor who understands the importance of common-sense gun laws," she said. "We don't need Saturday night specials on our streets. We certainly do not need Uzis and AK-47s on Connecticut Avenue or in Silver Spring or in Gaithersburg or in College Park."

Asked later about the appropriateness of her remark, Townsend alluded to her father's assassination: "This is a tragedy I live with. It's what I live with every day."

Clinton said she had admired Maryland's "wonderful tradition" of progressive ideas from afar and called Townsend a true leader.

Townsend also received an endorsement from the National Organization of Women last night, and she and her running mate, retired Adm. Charles R. Larson, reaffirmed their abortion-rights views.

The event raised $100,000 for the state Democratic Party, Townsend officials said.

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