Day By Day

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Maryland Politics -- Steele and McCain

When last heard from Michael Steele, Republican candidate for the Senate from Maryland, was busily firing staff members connected with the national Republican Party and replacing them with local talent, and rapidly distancing himself from President Bush, indeed the entire administration. The message seemed to be -- "Whaddaya mean, Republican? I ain't no steenkin' Republican!"

Well, Steele has finally found a Republican with whom he will consent to meet. The Washington Times reports:
U.S. Sen. John McCain is scheduled to headline a fundraiser in Baltimore tonight for Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele's campaign for the U.S. Senate.
Of course that doesn't mean that Steele is willing to be photographed with him.
The invitation-only fundraiser, which will be held at an undisclosed location in Baltimore, will be closed to the press. The Steele campaign did not say how many people are expected to attend or how much money is expected to be raised.

What seems to be happening here is that Steele is determined not to provide any ammunition to Democrats who, noting President Bush's unpopularity among Black voters, are trying to portray Steele as a Bushie. The battle of perceptions is essentially this: Democrats are trying to make Steele out to be just another Republican while Steele is trying to campaign as an independent and a Black man. At stake in this contest of images are tens of thousands of Black votes.

Dissing Bush and embracing McCain thus make sense because they strengthen the perception of Steele as an independent who speaks truth to power.

Will it work? Who knows? I certainly don't at this point. It certainly is an audacious stance, and a risky one too.

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