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  Debate Puts Steele on Defense
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Last EditedRP  Oct 30, 2006 01:04pm
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MediaNewspaper - Washington Post
News DateMonday, October 30, 2006 07:00:00 PM UTC0:0
DescriptionRepublican Michael S. Steele struggled to soften his long-held views on touchstone social issues yesterday after being challenged repeatedly on his conservative beliefs during his final televised debate in the campaign for Maryland's open U.S. Senate seat.

The debate on NBC's "Meet the Press" put on display the stark differences between Steele and Democratic Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin as they enter their final week of campaigning.

The two spent half the debate clashing on the war in Iraq -- with Steele saying the conflict "has been worth it to the extent that what we're trying to establish there is a beachhead of democracy." Cardin called it a "tragedy" and urged a gradual pullout of troops.

But the most dramatic exchanges came when host Tim Russert pressed Steele about his opposition to abortion and embryonic stem cell research, and about his long-standing support for President Bush. Such views don't typically sit well in heavily Democratic Maryland, and they have gone largely unmentioned by Steele during his year on the campaign trail.

This marked the first time in a series of debates that Steele has appeared on the defensive.
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