Area Democrats defend Clinton over controversies
Criticizing the temperament of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, politicians from Baltimore County and from around the state rallied for Democratic candidates down the ticket at the Baltimore County Democratic Central Committee’s Unity Dinner on Oct. 20.
At the dinner, members of the party voiced their
support for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, arguing that her accomplishments outweigh her controversies and that Trump lacks the temperament to be president.
Controversies have surrounded Trump’s campaign since its start, as the millionaire real estate developer has faced frequent allegations of sexism, racism, and xenophobia for his negative rhetoric during his campaign.
Clinton has also been a lightning rod for criticism, particularly for her involvement in her email scandal and the 2012 attack on a U.S. embassy in Benghazi.
Clinton has been heavily criticized for her use of a private email server while serving as Secretary of State. After an investigation, the FBI declined to press charges against Clinton in the matter.
For their part, local Democrats contend that her accomplishments outweigh her downsides.
Baltimore County Councilwoman Cathy Bevins (D-6), who is a delegate for Clinton and attended the Democratic National Convention, said Clinton has owned up to her controversies.
“She doesn’t run from it,” Bevins said. “She explained it. She apologized for it.”
Trump, she said, has not apologized for his contro- versies.
Ben Smith, a regional lead for Clinton’s campaign, said that there’s a “great imbalance” when comparing Clinton’s controversies to her “tremendous successes.”
Smith said that other high ranking government officials, including former Secretary of State Colin Powell, have contained emails on private servers, as Clinton did.
He added that seven congressional investigations — mostly led by Republicans — have found no evidence of administrative wrongdoing by Clinton. Only two of the seven investigations — by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs — weren’t led by Republicans.
Smith questioned how Trump was qualified for the presidency. He argued that Trump’s only credential is his record as a businessman, but he has filed for bankruptcy six times. In one year, 1995, he lost nearly $1 billion, enabling him to avoid paying federal income tax for 20 years, according to reporting by the New York Times.
Others spoke against Trump’s negative rhetoric.
“We have 19 days left to make sure Baltimore County stands up and rejects the politics of hate,” said Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, who sharply criticized Trump and compared him to Benito Mussolini, a fascist Italian dictator who led his country from 1922 to 1945.
U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-8) said Trump is “running against the very idea of what it means to be American, because what it means to be American is the idea that we can come to this great country from different places regardless” of wealth, ethnicity, or religion.
U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes (D-3) said that it is “our obligation to elect Hillary Clinton as our next president.”
The latest polls show Clinton is ahead 48 percent to Trump’s 41 percent nationally.
At the third presidential debate, Trump suggested that he might not accept the results of the presidential election.
At the dinner, Van Hollen said, “I will accept the results” of the Senate election. The congressman is running against Del. Kathy Szeliga (R-7) for Maryland’s open senate seat, which will be vacated by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D) when she retires at the end of this term.
Van Hollen currently holds a substantial lead in the polls.
Many attendees referred to Van Hollen as “our next Senator,” including Kame- netz and Sarbanes.
U.S. Rep. C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger, who has worked with Van Hollen in the Maryland delegation since 2003, said he was the first Democrat to endorse Van Hollen in the primary election.
Johnny Olszewski Jr., who represented Maryland’s 6th Legislative District for two terms from 2006 to 2013, encouraged voters to support Democratic candidates down the ballot.
“As Democrats, we need to continue speaking to issues facing working families,” he said, noting that his party’s strength is its support for working families.
He expressed frustration that the election has “drifted away from the issues” and became “focused on personalities.”
“My hope is that in the final weeks, coverage will shift to the issues,” he said.
Ruppersberger echoed those comments, saying that what matters to voters are the issues.
“This is one of the more negative campaigns I’ve seen,” he said. “I try to stay to the issues. That’s what people want.” Follow me on Twitter @bradkroner.
Democrats stumped for candidates up and down the ticket at the Oct. 20 Unity Dinner.
U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen, a candidate for the U.S. Senate, spoke at the Unity Dinner.