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Votes

Prelude to a Convention

Maryland’s lieutenant governor visits Potomac.

Last Thursday, the streets around Sam Malhotra’s house were crowded with cars. People from around the county came to hear Maryland’s lieutenant governor, Michael Steele (R), speak at a campaign event for Chuck Floyd (R), who is running for Congress in Maryland’s 8th District.

One of the themes of the night was portraying the Republican Party as more inclusive. “This is the new Republican Party,” Malhotra said.

The Party, said Steele, has always been inclusive. There are blacks, whites, Jews, Asians and women who are Republicans, Steele said. “Our problem is we never talked about it before,” he said.

He challenged those in attendance to carry that message out to others and to support George W. Bush and Chuck Floyd. “If you’ve got one inch of Republican blood in you, I expect you to do that,” he said.

Floyd, in introducing Steele, hinted at the lieutenant governor’s rising prominence within the party. “We’re trying to make him a national hero,” Floyd said. “We’re looking forward to his speech [at the Republican National Convention] in New York.”

In an interview after his speech, Steele, the first African-American lieutenant governor of Maryland, downplayed his role in the party. “I just go where the [Republican Party] chairman [Ed Gillespie] sends me,” he said.

He was selected because of his relationship with Gillespie and others in the party, said Steele, former state Republican Party chair. “They know how I feel about this president and his leadership.”

He has not yet finished crafting his speech, but after he does, he will share the content of the speech with Gillespie and others to ensure that it will conform to the theme of the day on which he will speak. “Every night there is a theme, so you want to stay on the theme,” Steele said.

Even thought the events are scripted, Steele said the major television networks should carry more of the conventions, noting that not everyone has access to the cable or satellite stations with more comprehensive broadcasts.

“You should let the American people see the process unfold,” he said.

He and Floyd continued to stress the Party is not one that is only for the wealthy. “You take the typical Republican, and it’s someone who is working in a factory or working in a mine,” Steele said.

The Republicans, Floyd and Steele said, try to allow people to achieve. “What we like to do is make sure that people have the opportunity to be successful,” Floyd said.