By Pat Warren

SILVER SPRING, Md. (WJZ)—Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler is in the national spotlight. For the second day, the Democratic candidate for governor tackles issues surrounding his presence at a party where underage drinking may have been going on.

Political reporter Pat Warren has the latest from Gansler and a growing debate over parental responsibility.

The attorney general is now steering the conversation away from the politics and into the topic of responsible parenting.

Gansler, pictured in a teenaged party where underage drinking may have occurred, faced a battery of questions Thursday about what he should have done.

What he did do was speak to his son and leave.

Gansler says he dropped in at the party to give his son some information and then took off without noticing any evidence of underage drinking.

“I was there as a parent,” Gansler said. “How do you react? What do you do? What’s the appropriate thing to do in that situation, where there’s 19-20-year-old kids that are having fun, that are having a party and some of whom may be drinking in other parts of the house?”

Do parents have options?

“We’re in charge, not the teenagers,” said Donna Parker.

“It’s your child, so you’re responsible for your child. Nobody else is but you,” said Eva Simmons O’Brien.

“Personally, I would definitely stop it,” said Markita Copeland.

“To the extent that people are looking at this as an issue I think it’s a good thing because I think it confronts every parent that has 19- or 20-year-old kids,” Gansler said.

Clinical psychologist Jim Dasinger says parents face tough questions, but the responsibility is there.

“To contact the chaperones who are there. I’d probably do it to reassure myself that things were going well there,” Dasinger said.

In a statement released Friday, Gansler says, “You always try to make the best decisions. In this case maybe I should have done something differently.”

Gansler says in hindsight, that’s exactly what he should have done—contacted the chaperones.

The head of the group that created a public service announcement, in which Gansler cautions against teenage drinking, agrees.

“We know that parents don’t want other adults providing alcohol to their kids, so I think you do have a moral responsibility as an adult and as the largest influence on kids’ decisions to drink or not to drink,” said Ralph Blackman, Century Council.

Gansler did say he might have made a mistake and that he does have a moral responsibility, not only to his kids but to his friends’ kids.

The party in question took place at a beach house in Delaware in June.

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