Schaefer describes mayor's remarks on Bush as `treason'

Comptroller uses meeting of public works panel to renew attacks on O'Malley

July 08, 2004|By David Nitkin | David Nitkin,SUN STAFF

Comptroller William Donald Schaefer is refusing to allow Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley's recent comments about al-Qaida to fade away, saying the mayor is guilty of "treason" for questioning the Bush administration.

"For him to say he trusts the enemy more than he trusts us, it's hard for me to believe," Schaefer said yesterday, using his opening monologue at the bimonthly state Board of Public Works meeting to continue his broadsides against O'Malley.

The mayor calls Schaefer his "mentor and tormentor," but the relationship has grown increasingly sour as O'Malley prepares to seek the Democratic nomination to run against Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Schaefer ally. Schaefer is a Democrat who is often at odds with local party leaders.

At a fund-raiser last week for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, O'Malley leveled criticism against the president that was picked up by national media.

"I remember after the attacks of Sept. 11, as mayor of the city, I was very, very worried about al-Qaida and still am," O'Malley said. "But I'm even more worried about the actions and inactions of the Bush administration."

Schaefer said yesterday that the mayor's remarks were criminal. "At time of war, that's treason," Schaefer said. "If you don't love your own country, and you don't have respect for the president, who do you have respect for?"

The comptroller also continued his criticism of O'Malley for saying he would not oppose the relocation of the Montreal Expos to the Washington area, despite possible harm to the Orioles.

In an interview later, Schaefer conceded that O'Malley never said he "trusts the enemy."

"That's the way it was interpreted by people," Schaefer said. "He didn't try to clarify it. I heard it. I listened to exactly what he said. What he tried to say, in my mind, was, `I have much more respect for the al-Qaida than I do for the president of the United States."

O'Malley said the remarks cheapen the 82-year-old Schaefer's impressive legacy and leave him "looking a little ridiculous."

"I feel sorry for him. He's done so many good things as governor and as mayor," O'Malley said. "None of the media who were there at my remarks at the Kerry events misconstrued what I said until [WBAL radio host] Chip Franklin lifted them out of context and twisted them the next day."

The mayor also defended his position on the baseball issue, saying, "I've always supported the Orioles. I'm not advocating a team for D.C. I'm just not opposed. That's up to another city. Fair is fair. We didn't like them telling us we couldn't have the Ravens because they have the Redskins."

Ehrlich said he would not comment on either of the statements by a possible future rival. "I'm just not going to get into it every time he acts out," the governor said of O'Malley. "It happens on a daily basis."

Sun staff writer Doug Donovan contributed to this article.

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