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Ehrlich Q&A: Former Gov. Talks ICC, Slots, Multiculturalism As 'Bunk'

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Former Maryland governor Bob Ehrlich has been in the news this week. His former campaign aide, Paul Schurick was convicted Tuesday of conspiring to use robocalls to suppress black voter turnout on Election Day 2010 -- in the same week that Ehrlich released a new book: Turn This Car Around: The Road Map To Restoring America. Ehrlich talked with WAMU Maryland reporter Matt Bush after a speech in Maryland Dec. 7.

The former governor has maintained that he had no knowledge of the robocalls, he would say little about the verdict this week. He said he disagrees with the verdict, but respects the legal system, declining to comment further. 

In his book, Ehrlich reflects on several controversies during his time as governor, including banning his staff from talking to two Baltimore Sun reporters, and calling multiculturalism "bunk." 

Here are some highlights from the interview: 

On successes during his tenure as governor: "The Chesapeake Bay Restoration, that huge environmental a initiative, it was very popular, and very successful … charter schools may be number one … and the ICC. Every time i drive it, I just get a big smile. It could not have happened but for our administration." 

The disappointments: "Clearly, slots," Ehrlich says. "When I no longer became governor then it became okay to pass slots, it's kind of interesting." 

On whether his comment that multiculturalism is "bunk" holds up: "In fact I'm even stronger on it today," Ehrlich says. "It can't work, it's a multi-ethnic melting pot; assimilation is the goal, not separatism. 

What that means for ethnic Marylanders: "That's my point. I'm German, I'm proud of my German heritage, but I don't look to Germany for my political values … English is my language, not German," he says. "The whole idea in this country, you assimilate. To the extent you don't or wish not to, sooner or later, you're not going to have a country." 

On the battle between his administration and Baltimore Sun reporters: "Ultimately we won that. Whether we won in the court of public opinion is a different matter," he says. "I just think there needed to be a very clear distinction between what's on the front page and what's on the editorial page."

Whether Republicans can make more political inroads in Maryland: "The state party needs to focus on where it can win. Statewide is very difficult and getting more difficult," Ehrlich says. "In the suburban counties, outer suburban counties, and rural areas … there are probably a dozen and a half seats that Democrats presently … where Republicans can not only be competitive, but they and can win." 

Listen to a longer version of Ehrlich's interview.

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