Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley was in Iowa, speaking at the Scott County Democrats’ “Red, White, and Blue Dinner” on Friday and showed those present that he is a serious candidate for president no matter what the polls say about Hillary Clinton’s inevitability.
O’Malley, who was not known as a liberal firebrand while governor, has adopted a take-no-prisoners attitude toward Wall Street and the rich.
During O’Malley’s appearance at the Scott County Democrats’ “Red, White and Blue Dinner,” he offered a prescription for “making the dream true again” that includes raising the minimum wage, expanding Social Security benefits, making pre-kindergarten universally available and ensuring equal pay for women. “Sing it with me people,” O’Malley said. “When women succeed, America succeeds.”
The speech, which drew multiple standing ovations, both underscored O’Malley’s opportunities and the challenges in the nation’s first presidential nominating state, where early polls show Clinton with a commanding lead and O’Malley barely registering. In interviews afterward, many Democratic activists said they were only starting to learn about O’Malley.
“I haven’t really followed him all that closely, but I’m going to be looking at him a lot harder now,” said Ken Krayenhagen, a 56-year-old chiropractor who lives in Davenport. “I like a leader that’s inspiring.”
O’Malley has said he plans to make a decision about whether to move forward with a presidential bid by May. Clinton has yet to visit Iowa this year but is hiring staff and laying other groundwork here and in other early states.
Taking a cue from Senator Elizabeth Warren, O’Malley evoked the class-warfare memes that makes liberals’ hearts flutter:
Many of the more than 200 people who turned out to see O’Malley in the Mississippi River city of Davenport on Friday said they were meeting him for the first time. He touted his time in office during his speech, including his work to raise Maryland’s minimum wage and increase state spending on education. The crowd enthusiastically applauded and rose to their feet several times when O’Malley bemoaned income inequality and called for more oversight of Wall Street and the financial industry.
“Over the last 12 years, wages have been going down, not up,” said O’Malley, who concluded eight years as governor of Maryland in January. “In fact, last year, Wall Street bonuses alone were double the combined earnings of every single American working for minimum wage to take care of their family. Until we solve this problem, we cannot rest – as a party or as a people.”
They were comments aimed squarely at those still pining for Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren to get into the race, something she has said repeatedly she will not. An effort to draft Warren into the race has been underway for months, organized by the liberal groups MoveOn.org and Democracy for America.
“I’m a lifelong Clinton fan. But the thing is, this isn’t a dynasty – it isn’t a monarchy,” said one attendee. In the end, that might be the best thing that O’Malley — and anyone else who challenges Hillary — has going for them in the campaign.