Snacks and coffee, what else?

The Baltimore Sun

Mitt Romney would have done anything to become president - anything but visit Arbutus. He decided to cut and run last week just hours before his scheduled arrival at Dewey Lowman American Legion Post 109.

Former POW John McCain is made of tougher stuff. So there he was Thursday at Bob Ehrlich's boyhood home on Dolores Avenue, and, later, at the post, which technically sits in Halethorpe, but not that night.

"We like Halethorpe, but we're in Arbutus, OK?" Ehrlich told the crowd.

McCain said he was happy to be there, proud to know Ehrlich, and "even prouder, frankly, to know his dad and mom." (Maybe Bob Sr. and Nancy had been with McCain from the start. Junior was a Giuliani man.)

The stopover at the Ehrlich home was arranged on just a few hours' notice. Kendel Ehrlich told me she gave her mother-in-law the out-of-nowhere heads-up:

"I called her at 2 and I said, 'Don't be alarmed, but the next president of the United States might be coming to your house.'"

Shortly before McCain was to arrive, Ehrlich stopped by the post - to do some live shots and, perhaps, escape the company's coming flurry.

"My mother's running around, 'Should I make coffee?'" he said.

Reached by phone the next day, Nancy Ehrlich suggested she was a confident hostess surrounded by flustered politicos.

"Everyone was interested in what I was going to give him. I said, 'The usual things, grapes and munchies and coffee and soda and water.' What else is there?"

No dirty tricks, just peppermints

McCain's visit brought Bo Harmon back to town. Ehrlich's former campaign manager is McCain's national political director.

Ehrlich created a bit of a stir by hiring Harmon, who in 2002 had run Saxby Chambliss' upset campaign against then-Sen. Max Cleland of Georgia. The Chambliss campaign ran a TV ad questioning the courage of the Vietnam vet and triple amputee.

Among those who objected to the ad: a certain senator from Arizona. "Worse than disgraceful," McCain called it.

Either McCain is over it, or he doesn't blame Harmon for the spot. Tom Perdue, Chambliss' media consultant and strategist, told The Gazette back in 2005 (when Ehrlich had just hired Harmon) that Harmon bore no responsibility - for the ad, or practically anything else.

"The heaviest thing he [Harmon] had to do was buy the peppermint candy to fill the bowl at the front of the office," Perdue told the paper.

They're both just too cute for words

Any undecided 1st District voters out there would do well to go to YouTube and check out the video labeled, "Harris is a conservative; O'Malley is too sexy for his shirt."

It shows footage of state Sen. Andy Harris at a Kent County debate and asks this important question: "Did he [Harris] just call Martin O'Malley attractive."

(He does, indeed. Twice.)

Kevin Gilchrest, son of incumbent Rep. Wayne Gilchrest, posted the video, which pokes fun at the pretty-boy governor as much as Harris.

Don't give up the day job

Howard County Exec Ken Ulman makes his dramatic TV debut in tonight's Wire. The one-time WMAR intern plays a reporter who questions authorities about reputed serial killings.

Ulman told The Sun's Larry Carson that he'll appear in next week's episode, too, but he's only seen from the back. (His good side, at least.) And then that's it for show biz.

"Unless Beverly Hills 90210 comes back, he's done with acting," spokesman Kevin Enright said.

Just as well, since when the credits rolled, they spelled his name "Ullman."

Ulman donated the $1,295 stipend he received from The Wire to the Howard County Police Foundation in honor of Cpl. Scott Wheeler and to the Lance Armstrong Foundation. (Ulman's brother, Doug, a cancer survivor, is president of the foundation.)

The foundation, incidentally, plans to take something called "24 Hours of Booty" to Columbia in September. Sounds racier than it is. It's a charity cycling event.

Connect the dots

If Nancy Grasmick ever thought her job was on the line, you can't tell it by her expanded real estate portfolio. Back when Governor O'Malley started talking publicly about giving her the heave-ho, she and husband Lou were out house-hunting. They already owned a Georgian money pit in Phoenix. But in September, they bought a $1.5 million waterfront condo in Chestertown. ... Marc Steiner appeared on WHFS' Ed Norris Show the other day to talk about his firing from WYPR. A caller who'd never heard of Steiner managed to quickly size up his ouster: "O'Malley had something to do with it, right?" Ed Norris, no apologist for his ex-boss, set the guy straight on that one: "That would be Tyrone Powers." (For the record, The Gov has said he had nothing to do with Powers' disappearance from the WEAA airwaves. In fact, O'Malley claimed he'd never heard of him. But O'Malley remembered him after he never knew him.)

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