O’Malley: Anti-Ehrlich claim a 'tactical' error
Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley backed away Thursday from an effort in one of his radio advertisements to link former Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. with the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
The spot, which began airing on local radio last month, features a narrator reading key facts about the gusher, and then names oil companies represented by Ehrlich’s law firm. It also included a clip of Ehrlich saying “Drill, Baby, Drill,” without providing the context: He was quoting former Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, not necessarily endorsing the position himself.
The Erhlich campaign responded with indignation, accusing O’Malley of taking advantage of a tragedy with dishonest claims.
O’Malley, appearing Thursday on WTOP radio, expressed ambivalence about the advertisement.
“What we should not have mentioned was the fact that the oil spill is going on in that ad, and that was a tactical mistake that my campaign made,” he said.
After the appearance, O’Malley campaign spokesman Rick Abbruzzese said the governor “stands by the facts in the ad.” He added, “It is an ad that used a current event to highlight Ehrlich’s record on the issue.”
Democrats and Republicans around the country are using the spill in campaigns. The O’Malley radio spot was criticized on the editorial pages of The Baltimore Sun and the Washington Post.
In a statement Thursday, the Ehrlich campaign said “dishonest attack ads” are the “least important” of O’Malley’s errors.
O'Malley continues to characterize his opponent as a lobbyist, saying that Ehrlich's role at Womble Carlyle as a government affairs specialist is a fancy way of saying influence peddling and that Ehrlich's failure to register with the state shows merely that he is being disingenuous about his work.