Asked whether he's a socialist, Ben Jealous drops F-bomb at Baltimore County news conference

Maryland Democratic gubernatorial nominee Ben Jealous uttered a curse word during a news conference on Wednesday morning, responding to a reporter’s question by asking: “Are you f---- kidding me?”

He later apologized for what he called “inappropriate language.”

Jealous had called the event in Towson to announce several endorsements from elected officials — an hour before Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, held his own press conference about an endorsement a couple blocks away.

A reporter from The Washington Post asked Jealous to comment on TV ads and comments from Hogan that portray him as a socialist.

Jealous initially laughed at the question and said: “You know, I about fell out of my chair when I read in the (New York) Times this weekend that Hogan was calling me names.”

He then spoke for about a minute and a half on his theory that Republicans are scared of his ideas on the economy and health care.

The reporter followed up and asked Jealous for a direct answer as to whether he identifies as a socialist.

That’s when he responded with the F-word phrase, smiling, and added: “Is that a fine enough point? OK.”

Some of the elected officials behind Jealous raised eyebrows at the comment. No one commented on Jealous’ use of the word, however, and the news conference continued with more questions.

Hogan campaign spokesman Doug Mayer issued a statement in response to Jealous’ comment, saying: “The governor believes in raising the level of political discourse in our state and in our country, and cursing at reporters asking questions is the exact opposite of that. We need more people in public office who understand that words and tone matter not fewer – we already have plenty who don’t in Washington, D.C.”

Jealous later posted an apology on Twitter to the reporter, Erin Cox of The Washington Post.

“I know how important it is for a free society to respect reporters and answer their questions honestly,” Jealous wrote in the Twitter post Wednesday afternoon.

He went on to say he wanted to answer the question about whether he is a socialist “once and for all.”

“I’m a venture capitalist, not a socialist. I have never referred to myself as a socialist nor would I govern as one,” Jealous wrote.

pwood@baltsun.com

twitter.com/pwoodreporter

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