Schaefer Refuses to Apologize--Or Debate
A group of Korean Americans visited Maryland Comptroller Wiliam Donald Schaefer this afternoon, expecting an apology for remarks that seemed to hold South Korean immigrants accountable for the communist north "shooting missles at us."
But they left angrier than they had arrived.
Schaefer (D) refused to apologize and would not sign a letter of contrition that had been prepared by his own chief of staff. Some within the perplexed Korean-American delegation tried to put the best face on the disastrous hour of failed diplomacy, pledging further meetings. Others said they had heard enough.
"If he doesn't feel an apology is needed, then something is wrong," said Chung Pak, who represented the League of Korean Americans of Maryland, speaking to a bank of television cameras after the meeting. "He's treating us as if we were a bunch of foreigners."
During a question-and-answer session that followed, a reporter reminded Schaefer that his opponents, Montgomery Del. Peter Franchot and Anne Arundel County Executive Janet Owens, in the Democratic primary race had challenged him to a debate.
Results of a Baltimore Sun poll released today showed Schaefer with support from 31 percent of Democrat voters, Owens with 22 percent and Franchot with 11 percent. A full 36 percent were undecided less than two months before the Sept. 12 primary.
"They can debate themselves," Schaefer replied. He went on to say that his opponents probably wanted to debate because they hadn't been able to get much news coverage.
That remark might have been tongue-in-cheek, as Schaefer himself has reaped mostly unflattering news coverage in recent days.
"They can go debate themselves till their heads fall off," Schaefer said, smiling as the reporters dutifully scribbled the comment in their notebooks. He reached for something stronger.
"I wouldn't lower myself," he said, watching the scribes commit the words to paper. "That's pretty good."
Daniel De Vise
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