Dean holds rally in Baltimore

Candidate raises $100,000 at a fund-raiser

O'Malley, other Democrats attend

November 18, 2003|By Matt Whittaker | Matt Whittaker,SUN STAFF

Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean held a rally in Baltimore yesterday and a fund-raiser that campaign officials said collected $100,000 for the former Vermont governor.

About 130 supporters gathered for the rally in front of the Wyndham Baltimore-Inner Harbor hotel.

"We have the power to take this country back," Dean said.

Dean was also celebrating his 55th birthday yesterday, and some at the rally sang "Happy Birthday" to him. Among them was Bobbi Benitz of Annapolis.

"He is sincere," Benitz said, explaining why she will vote for Dean. "I think the same way he does. I'm liberal, and I'm proud to be liberal."

Dean shook hands and signed campaign posters after the rally, and then went inside the hotel for meetings with Mayor Martin O'Malley and donors before speaking at the fund-raiser, where about 250 people paid $250, $500 or $1,000 for lunch.

The event raised $100,000 for Dean's campaign, said David Paulson, a spokesman for Maryland for Dean.

Democratic officials attended, including U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings of Baltimore, Del. Maggie L. McIntosh, also of Baltimore, and Mary Pat Clarke, a former City Council president who has won the Democratic nomination for a council seat in North Baltimore.

O'Malley was friendly but stopped short of an endorsement as he introduced Dean at the lunch.

"I am very impressed with a person ... who speaks the truth," O'Malley said. "This is a presidential candidate that understands that ... we need ... an urban policy."

Dean said he supports an urban policy that would include, for example, a federally supported renovation program for Baltimore schools.

Matthew Crenson, a political science professor at the Johns Hopkins University, said heavily African-American and Democratic Baltimore is important for Dean.

"This is a heavily Democratic state," Crenson said. "And this is a good gauge of how he does with Democrats, especially African-American Democrats. For a long time his campaign had a white face," but "a good reception in Baltimore will help to reinforce that" his campaign has changed to be more sensitive to the African-American vote, he said.

Maryland's Democratic presidential primary is March 2, and Paulson said the state is important to Dean.

"He's paid more attention to Maryland than any other Democratic candidate," Paulson said. But as Dean campaigns elsewhere, "this may be the last time we see him in Maryland again."

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