Photos obtained by ABC News show Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler at a party where there may have been underaged drinking. (ABC)
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SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) -- Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler said Thursday he should have done more to see whether there was underage drinking going on at teenage beach party he briefly visited last June to talk with his son.
Gansler, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor, told reporters during a news conference that he stopped by the June 13 party in South Bethany, Del., to briefly discuss travel plans for the next day with his 19-year-old son.
A photograph obtained by The Baltimore Sun and published Thursday shows Gansler amid a group of partying teens. He appears to be holding up a smartphone. Some of the young people are dancing and several red plastic cups are visible.
Gansler said that while there was loud music, he didn't see any drinking. He said he left soon after talking with his son. He says he saw no reason to call police.
"I think I probably should have done more," Gansler said Thursday afternoon at a news conference outside his campaign headquarters.
Gansler's reaction shifted from earlier comments to The Sun, in which he said if he had seen drinking, it wouldn't have been his responsibility to intervene.
Gansler starred last year in a public service announcement for The Century Council, an organization sponsored by the liquor industry that fights drunken driving and underage drinking. In the 30-second video spot, Gansler says parents are the leading influence on their kids' behavior when it comes to alcohol, noting, "It's never too early to talk to your kids about smart ways to say, `No."'
Council CEO Ralph Blackman said he expects the spot will be pulled off the organization's YouTube channel.
"We talk a lot about the mixed messages that parents sometimes send to kids. It's a bit of a mixed message for us" to have Gansler's PSA available while his actions are under scrutiny.
Gansler's campaign for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination is going through a rough patch.
The Washington Post published a story last week about Maryland State Police describing Gansler as directing troopers assigned to protect him to bypass traffic by driving on the shoulder and presenting other safe-driving concerns.
Gansler responded by calling the commander of the state police's executive protection section a "henchman" of Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley and Democratic Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, who is running against Gansler for the Democratic nomination. Gansler's remarks brought a rebuke from state police, which described the reference to the commander as "unseemly and unacceptable."
Furthermore, Gansler's office announced Tuesday that he paid a photo-camera speeding ticket the attorney general's office received from the District of Columbia. Gansler said the failure to pay immediately was inadvertent as he sought to determine who was driving at the time. The attorney general said he went ahead and paid the ticket, even though he said it's still unclear who was at the wheel.
In August, the Post reported that Gansler told campaign volunteers at a meeting a month earlier that Brown is relying on his race to get elected.
"His campaign slogan is, `Vote for me, I want to be the first African-American governor of Maryland,"' Gansler told the group. "That's a laudable goal, but you need a second sentence: `Because here's what I've done, and here's why I've done it."'
The race for the Democratic nomination for governor got off to an early start this year, partly because the primary has been moved up from September to June. The race has also been highly competitive so far because O'Malley is barred by term limits from seeking a third term in the heavily Democratic state.
Associated Press writer Matthew Barakat in McLean, Va., contributed to this report.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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