After Bashing Bush, Steele Backs Down

In contrast to his telling Milbank on Monday that he "'probably'" did not want President Bush campaigning for him given the President's unpopularity in Maryland, Steele in his ABC interview refused to challenge Bush's handling of Iraq, expressing confidence that the "president is trusting the intelligence that he's getting from the generals on the ground."

Democrats seized upon Steele's clandestine musings to portray the candidate as too beholden to the president for his fundraising prowess to truly be an independent voice.

Mark Clack, the campaign manager to former NAACP chief Kweisi Mfume, one of the Democrats seeking his party's Senate nomination, questioned Steele's consistency: "It seems that he's trying to have it both ways: casting himself as a moderate maverick, while at the same time accepting the national Republican Party's invitation to join the Senate race and join in on the campaign bounty which he currently sits upon."

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