Mary­lan­ders turn de­bate into a party

Baltimore Sun - - FROM PAGE ONE - John.fritze@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/jfritze ecox@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/@Eri­natTheSun

“I don’t think we’d need a coun­try of sur­prises,” said Robb, at­tend­ing a Demo­cratic de­bate party at the Re­nais­sance Baltimore Har­bor­place Ho­tel. “I think some of our al­lies that we have now won’t be our al­lies. We’d be in more wars than ever — do­mes­tic, in­ter­na­tional and global.”

Sup­port­ers of Clin­ton and Trump who gath­ered at op­pos­ing watch par­ties within a half-mile of each other in Baltimore viewed the back-and-forth en­tirely dif­fer­ently, and largely through the prism of their own ex­pec­ta­tions of each can­di­date.

Clin­ton was ei­ther a pol­icy ex­pert with the cool tem­per­a­ment needed in un­cer­tain times or a cor­rupt in­sider rep­re­sent­ing ev­ery­thing wrong with Wash­ing­ton. Trump was ei­ther a change agent pok­ing his fin­ger at the es­tab­lish­ment or a hus­tler stok­ing racial ten­sion on his way to the White House.

Democrats cheered when Clin­ton de­scribed her op­po­nent’s eco­nomic pol­icy as “Trumped-up trickle-down.”

Repub­li­cans, sur­rounded by Fox News and hot wings, roared their ap­proval when Clin­ton sug­gested she might be blamed for ev­ery­thing and Trump fired back, “Why not?”

Both ap­plauded and jeered as the de­bate quickly be­came spir­ited.

“Donald Trump fa­mously claimed that ‘if she treats me with re­spect, I will treat her with re­spect,’” said Richard E. Vatz, who teaches po­lit­i­cal rhetoric at Tow­son Univer­sity. “That at­ten­u­a­tion of ag­gres­sive­ness lasted about 10 min­utes.”

Vatz noted that Clin­ton started the at­tacks with the “Trumped-up” line. As the de­bate grew more rowdy, so did the watch par­ties.

Gabe Cazares, 24, hollered at Clin­ton’s at­tack about Trump re­fus­ing to re­lease his tax re­turns.

“It begs the ques­tion: What has he been hid­ing in his busi­ness deal­ings so far?” At Dempsey’s Brew Pub, Henry Ciezkowski says he sup­ports Trump be­cause he thinks “peo­ple want some­body real, down to earth.” Cazares asked.

Cazares said Clin­ton ar­tic­u­lated how her poli­cies would af­fect ev­ery­day Amer­i­cans, and how Trump’s would not. As a gay Latino with a dis­abil­ity, he said, “there’s a lot at stake in my com­mu­ni­ties. Mr. Trump has de­mo­nized me.”

Lisa Bland, a 42-year-old Es­sex woman, said she would have liked to see Trump crit­i­cize Clin­ton more force­fully on her time as sec­re­tary of state.

“He did well hit­ting her back in a diplo­matic way — short and sweet,” Bland said. “But I would have liked to see him call­ing her out more.”

One thing sup­port­ers of both can­di­dates ap­peared to have in com­mon: a deep dis­trust of the op­po­nent, and a fear of what would hap­pen to the coun­try if that op­po­nent won. Nine in 10 Mary­land Repub­li­cans had an un­fa­vor­able view of Clin­ton in a Goucher Col­lege poll re­leased last week. Ninety-one per­cent of Democrats said they dis­like Trump.

Sherri Weems, a Dun­dalk re­tiree, said she is wor­ried about what a Clin­ton pres­i­dency would look like.

“I don’t want to see us suc­cumb to gov­ern­ment rules — them in­ter­fer­ing in our pri­vate lives all the time,” she said.

“I thought [2012 GOP nom­i­nee Mitt] Rom­ney was weak,” Weems said. “Trump is Democrats gather around a TV at the Re­nais­sance Baltimore Har­bor­place Ho­tel for a de­bate watch party. very strong. He’s his own man. He re­minds me of Rea­gan.”

Vot­ers turned out for de­bate watch par­ties in large num­bers through­out the state Mon­day, even though Mary­land is about as swing­less in na­tional elec­tions as it can be. State Repub­li­cans have to look back to 1988 — when vot­ers chose Ge­orge H.W. Bush over a be­lea­guered Michael Dukakis — for the last time state vot­ers sided with their party in a pres­i­den­tial con­test.

The most re­cent poll con­ducted in Mary­land, the Goucher Poll, found Clin­ton lead­ing Trump among likely vot­ers by 58 per­cent to 25 per­cent. That 33-point mar­gin was slightly larger than in the 29-point gap in a poll con­ducted by Opin­ionWorks in Au­gust.

The polling in Mary­land also un­der­scores just how po­lar­iz­ing both can­di­dates have be­come: Even though Clin­ton is sig­nif­i­cantly ahead in Mary­land, 46 per­cent of vot­ers hold an un­fa­vor­able view of her.

Sev­enty-six per­cent of state vot­ers view Trump un­fa­vor­ably.

Trump has vis­ited the state once dur­ing the gen­eral elec­tion cam­paign — a brief stop this month to speak to an as­so­ci­a­tion of Na­tional Guard lead­ers and have lunch in Dun­dalk with a hand­ful of elected Repub­li­cans. Clin­ton has not ap­peared in the state for a pub­lic event since be­fore the state’s April 26 pri­mary elec­tion.

Both can­di­dates have spo­ken re­cently about is­sues im­por­tant for Baltimore, in­clud­ing ed­u­ca­tion, poverty and polic­ing.

Trump, the self-pro­claimed law-an­dorder can­di­date, called last week for an ex­panded use of stop-and-frisk, a tac­tic that was con­tro­ver­sial in Baltimore and crit­i­cized by the U.S. Depart­ment of Jus­tice in its re­port on the city’s polic­ing last month.

Clin­ton has pro­posed na­tional stan­dards for use of force, par­tic­u­larly lethal force, though it is un­clear what that guid­ance might look like or whether there would be any reper­cus­sions for lo­cal po­lice de­part­ments that choose to ig­nore it.

As Trump dis­cussed stop-and-frisk again on Mon­day, a woman at the Demo­cratic party yelled, “You’re so bad!” A few stools down, state Sen. Cather­ine Pugh, the Demo­cratic nom­i­nee for Baltimore mayor, threw her hands in the air and shook her head.

“He doesn’t un­der­stand that stop-and­frisk doesn’t work,” said Pru­dence John­son, a Demo­cratic ac­tivist. “If you’re stop­ping me, frisk­ing me, be­cause I’m black, how does that help any­one?”

ERIN COX/BALTIMORE SUN

JOHN FRITZE/BALTIMORE SUN

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