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Steele's Day of Contrition

Michael Steele had some apologizing to do Friday.

It was a day after the Republican Senate candidate and lieutenant governor had compared embryonic stem cell research to Nazi experimentation, offending some who heard him speak at the Baltimore Jewish Council.

His offending remark: "Look, you of all folks know what happens when people decide they want to experiment on human beings, when they want to take your life and use it as a tool. I know that as well from my community and our experience with slavery."

He started off on Baltimore talk radio, using the forum to apologize at length for the remark. Then, confronted with a hoard of reporters and camera crews, he came back to the topic at regularly scheduled campaign stops in Prince George's County--with comments reflecting on politics, fairth and his time spent in an Augustinian monastery.

"I wanted to be honest, but unfortunately from that it was inferred I was linking the Holocaust to stem cell research. Absolutely not," he said on WBAL. "You know, I would never denigrate nor offend the memory of the six million Jews that were lost ..... I would never, ever do that and I just apologize for anyone getting the sense that's exactly what I was saying, because it wasn't."

Hamil Harris and Matt Mosk

Next he was off to a Black History Month event a Samuel Maasie Elementary School in Forestville, where he told the children:
"Despite slavery, despite those who persecuted us and all of that ugliness, you are a wonderful school surrounded by loving people."

Later, with reporters, he returned to his stem cell comments: "I apologize very seriously for to anybody who was hurt by what I said because I was hurt by what I said."

Next stop was a nursing home, where senior citizens smiled proudly as he walked into the room and gave polite hugs to many of the little ladies.

"You have touched my heart," he told the residents there. "I see a generation of African American men and women who put it on the line."

Outside, he met with reporters again.

"I offended members of the Jewish community and members of the Maryland community," Steele said. "It was remark that was an improper inference because I never specifically said Holocaust. It was an inference in putting two parts of a conversation together and it did not reflect my attitude and my belief and I am really sorry about the whole thing.

"I hope no one tries to politicize this because the Holocaust is a special memory for a lot of people, particularly for the living survivors, and you don't want to get politics wrapped up in all of this. I hope people would hold their powder on all of that.

"My momma taught me something when I was very young. You make a mistake you own up to it," Steele continued. "If you offend someone, you apologize. I have done both in this circumstance."

When he was asked as to whether be believes those involved in stem cell research are murderers, he said, "I don't believe that at all. My only point yesterday was to raise a moral caution. It wasn't anything more that because I have members of my family and friends who would benefit from this wonderful science, but giving my views on life I really really want people to appreciate the science but not go headlong and not appreciate the ethical or moral consequences in what we do."

"Take it slow, don't do the science, we are doing the research, but I only point as the science broadens itself, NIH is doing tremendous research, my only point is lets be cautious and lets be mindful that they are consequences and we need to be careful about that."

When asked "How do you balance faith as you go about the campaign," Steele replied:

"I spent three years of my life in a monastery as an Augustinian friar, and I live a life of reflection and that is part of what I do and bring my job. I don't beat people up about my faith or my religion. I don't make that an issue in policy discussions with the governor or at the table but it is a guiding principle for me."

"It is a force in my life. I tried to share a little bit of that because most politicians get up and give you the pat, 30-second sound byte ...

"I appreciate the sensitivity to this issue. I am glad it dealt back to me and I was made aware that I had made an error and I have tried to correct it. I hope I have and I hope member of the Jewish community and the entire Maryland community recognize how serious I take this and how sorry I am for my mistake."

By Phyllis Jordan  |  February 10, 2006; 11:15 PM ET
 
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Next: Steele supports stem cell--sort of

Comments

I'm really stunned that Steele would compare stem-cell research, which harms nobody and has the potential to save or improve millions of lives, to (of all things) slavery or genocide. And this is supposed to be a moderate republican? I'm starting to have my doubts.

Posted by: John | February 11, 2006 3:52 AM | Report abuse

Matthew Mosk does his protectionism again instead of reporting on the story of O'Malley's cooked books. Pure cowardice and shield-attempt by Mosk. Fire him!

Posted by: Keith | February 11, 2006 7:26 PM | Report abuse

Notice no blog on the O'Malley crime story. What a joke!

Posted by: Keith | February 11, 2006 7:26 PM | Report abuse

Keith, see two items up

Posted by: Phyllis Jordan | February 12, 2006 1:50 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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