O’Malley impresses — as vice president
Even when former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley wows the crowds in Iowa and other early-voting states, they say the likely presidential hopeful would make a good vice president.
That’s a powerful blow to a candidate who is trying to make his way to the top of the ticket and beat back naysaying political analysts who give him no chance of winning or who speculate that he’s actually running for the No. 2 spot or a Cabinet post under Hillary Rodham Clinton, the presumed frontrunner for the Democratic nomination.
These days, Mr. O’Malley is quick to challenge the idea that Mrs. Clinton is “unbeatable” and her nomination is “inevitable.”
“Let’s be honest here, the presidency of the United States is not some crown to be passed between two families. It is an awesome and sacred trust that [has] to be earned and exercised on behalf of the American people,” he said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”
The former governor, who has laid the groundwork for a challenge to Mrs. Clinton next year, said he would announce his decision on the race “this spring.”
More than any other potential Democratic candidate, Mr. O’Malley has undertaken an aggressive travel schedule in Iowa and New Hampshire. He has garnered standing ovations from party activists with his populist rhetoric and liberal agenda, which includes calls to raise the minimum wage and break up Wall Street banks.
Larry Hodgden, Democratic Party Chairman for Iowa’s Cedar County, said he was impressed with Mr. O’Malley and believed he will do well in the state’s nominating caucuses, though he offered a major caveat.
“Even if he doesn’t rise to the top of the Democratic ticket, I do believe that he would make a very, very good vice presidential candidate down the road,” said Mr. Hodgden, who met Mr. O’Malley earlier this month at an event in Cedar County.
Like other party activists, Mr. Hodgden said he is waiting on Mrs. Clinton, who has been hunkered down in hopes that the scandal over her exclusive use of private email during her tenure as secretary of state will blow over.
“I’m holding back my judgment until she gets out here and begins to campaign, and then I’ll compare her to whoever else is in the race,” he said.
“It depends how hard Hillary wants to campaign in Iowa and what her message is. And right now it’s secret. Nobody knows,” said Mr. Hodgden. “We know what she’s done in the past, but elections for president are about the future, and we need to know what Hillary Clinton wants to bring to the contest.”
Mr. O’Malley’s supporters insist that Mrs. Clinton isn’t invincible despite her huge lead in the polls.
“This isn’t about Hillary. It’s about Martin O’Malley,” said Terry L. Lierman, a former chairman of the Maryland Democratic Party who is expected to play a key role in Mr. O’Malley’s campaign.
“This is about supporting a governor, a council member, a mayor with loads of experience demonstrating that he can get things done,” Mr. Lierman said, referring to Mr. O’Malley’s public service in Baltimore. “He’s a doer of deeds. It’s deeds that are important, not words.”
He brushed off speculation that Mr. O’Malley would be running for anything other than president.
“They have nothing else to do but speculate,” he said. “She [Mrs. Clinton] hasn’t decided if she is running yet either.”