updated 10/17/2006 10:02:36 AM ET 2006-10-17T14:02:36

From the moment he stepped out of a black sport utility vehicle Monday, waving two small American flags and shouting his trademark phrase "Only in America!" boxing promoter Don King sounded like he was hyping his latest prizefighter.

  1. Other political news of note
    1. Animated Boehner: 'There's nothing complex about the Keystone Pipeline!'

      House Speaker John Boehner became animated Tuesday over the proposed Keystone Pipeline, castigating the Obama administration for not having approved the project yet.

    2. Budget deficits shrinking but set to grow after 2015
    3. Senate readies another volley on unemployment aid
    4. Obama faces Syria standstill
    5. Fluke files to run in California

But this time the contender was a politician, Lt. Gov. Michael Steele. And the fight King came to Maryland to promote was Steele's bid to attract black Democratic voters to his Republican campaign for U.S. Senate.

King traveled with Steele to two black Democrat strongholds, appearing at a tea house in a Largo shopping center and later at a Baltimore neighborhood and boxing center. And while Steele threw some jabs at his Democratic opponent, U.S. Rep. Ben Cardin at the Largo event, he left it to King to swing the knockout blows.

Blacks and Democrats
King scolded black voters for reflexively supporting Democratic candidates, saying blacks have been "invisible" to both the Democratic and Republican parties. King, who is registered as a Republican in Florida, nevertheless described himself as a "Republocrat." And he urged black voters to be "apostles of getting out the vote."

"We just go vote because it's a Democrat rather than get the man with the plan who is going to do something for you," he said, moments before hoisting Steele's left arm into the air like a winning boxer.

Steele and Cardin are both trying to woo black voters in the Washington suburbs and Baltimore area, many of whom usually vote Democrat.

Steele, who was urged by national Republican officials to run for the seat being vacated by Democratic Sen. Paul Sarbanes, suggested the Democratic party didn't want a black candidate running on its ticket. He claimed party leaders "hand-picked" Cardin, who is white, to run even after former NAACP head Kweisi Mfume announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination. 2006 key races

"The fact that he is not in this race says a lot," Steele said.

Cardin defeated Mfume in the September primary, and Mfume later endorsed Cardin. Black Democrats in Maryland such as Rep. Albert Wynn and Rep. Elijah Cummings also endorsed Cardin, and Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, campaigned with Cardin last month.

Democratic response
Cardin spokesman Oren Shur noted that Steele and King campaigned together in 2004 for President Bush, belying their claim to transcend party definitions.

"The African American community, like all of Maryland's communities, is upset with the direction that George W. Bush is taking this country, and they want a U.S. Senator that will stand up and get real results for Maryland families, and that's Ben Cardin," he said.

The small crowd in Largo was made up mostly of residents from a local adult community center, some Prince George's County party officials and horde of reporters.

But it also included one of the boxers King has promoted, former middleweight champion William Joppy. Joppy, who is from the Washington area, said he came to speak to King about business, not politics. But his manager, J.D. Brown, said he was impressed by Steele, especially for his support of efforts to bring slot machines to Maryland.

"He's a good candidate," Brown said. "He's got the possibility to turn a lot of things around."

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments