Democrats say convention lets Maryland set example -- Gazette.Net


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Maryland Democrats say their party’s national convention isn’t just about rallying support for President Barack Obama; it’s also a chance for the state to serve as an example for the rest of the country.

“We’re the model of what can be done across the nation,” said Del. Mary Washington (D-Dist. 43) of Baltimore, one of more than two dozen state lawmakers and officials attending the convention this week in Charlotte, N.C. “We pack a big punch.”

Maryland has a strong record on education and is taking the lead on social initiatives such as the Maryland Dream Act, which offers in-state college tuition to some undocumented immigrants, and same-sex marriage, Washington said.

With Maryland’s electoral votes all but guaranteed to go to Obama, the state’s Democrats also can help drum up support for the president in neighboring states, said Del. Guy Guzzone (D-Dist. 13) of Columbia, who said he spent the week before the 2008 elections going door to door in Pittsburgh.

“We’ll do whatever it takes,” he said.

But the focus in Charlotte will remain on Obama and his economic vision, which was still worth fighting for, said Del. John Olszewski Jr. (D-Dist. 6) of Dundalk.

Last week, Republicans used their national convention in Charlotte to attack Obama’s performance on economic growth and job creation.

“We need to focus on where we were when Obama took office. We were on the precipice of an economic disaster,” Olszewski said. “We all would like more progress and more growth.”

Four years later, Osama Bin Laden was dead, the auto industry was thriving again, and the country was better off than it would have been otherwise, he said.

“This president inherited the worst economy since Franklin Roosevelt,” Guzzone said, adding that Roosevelt needed more than one term to turn things around.

While there are people still struggling with the impact of the recession, “things are better than they were and on a better path than they were,” Guzzone said.

Maryland Republicans, meanwhile, are not convinced. “It’s just the same rhetoric over and over again; there’s no action,” said David Ferguson, executive director of the Maryland Republican Party. “Obama has not lived up to his promise of a better America.”

Recent polling data show that a majority of Americans don’t believe they’re better off now than they were when Obama took office, he said. “Now’s the time for solutions, not excuses.”

dleaderman@gazette.net