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Mikulski: Baltimore needs to renew its confidence

Mikulski: "I don't think about Donald Trump. I think about America."

After representing her hometown in Congress for nearly four decades, Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski says Baltimore needs a renewal of self-confidence after a challenging year that brought rioting to its streets.

In an interview to air Sunday on Channel 2's "Square Off" show, the nation's longest-serving woman senator called for a return to the leadership style of her friend William Donald Schaefer, the late mayor and governor.

"He gave us a new sense of self-confidence, and that's what we need to do now – redeem our confidence," Mikulski said.

She answered questions from host Richard Sher on topics ranging from President Barack Obama's decision to award her the Medal of Freedom to the Republican presidential campaign of Donald Trump to the fight against the terrorist group ISIS.

The lifelong Democrat said the award left her "overcome with emotion and gratitude." Trump has not impressed her.

"I don't think about Donald Trump. I think about America," she said. "I don't think we need bombastic solutions."

To fight ISIS, Mikulski called for "a multi-pronged approach" that would include military operations in the Mideast, countering the group's use of the Internet and shutting down its financial networks.

"We also need the countries in the Muslim world also fighting ISIS," she said.

Mikulski, who announced last year that she would give up her Senate seat after the 2016 election, said that as a young social worker she never imagined she'd follow a career in politics.

"I never envisioned that I'd ever be in the Baltimore City Council," she said. But when her fight against a proposed highway through Fells Point and other neighborhoods helped her win a seat in City Hall, she said she learned something.

"I had a taste for it. I had a knack for it," she said.

That knack would eventually propel Mikulski to the U.S. House in the 1976 election and the U.S. Senate 10 years later.

Mikulski told Sher she still considers blocking the highway one of her greatest accomplishments in public service. The others she named were her successful push for federal legislation requiring "equal pay for equal work" for women and bringing "jobs today, jobs tomorrow" to Maryland.

Sher said many of his viewers had urged him to ask whether Mikulski, who will turn 80 in July, would consider a run for mayor of Baltimore this year. The senator said no.

"I'm going to serve Baltimore in a way other than elected office," she said. She said there is "a lot of talent" among those running to succeed Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and promised to be at the new mayor's side.

"Square Off" is scheduled to air at 11 a.m. Sunday on WMAR ABC2. The show is also available at squareoff.net.

mdresser@baltsun.com

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