Maryland’s outgoing Democratic governor Martin O’Malley is still “very seriously” considering a presidential run in 2016, he said Thursday night during an appearance at David Axelrod’s Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago.
“I’m very seriously considering running in 2016,” he said, adding that he’s in no rush. “Right now, my primary responsibility is to move my family back to Baltimore, which I will do in another week. So I’m going to be taking some time over the next couple of months to get my family situated.”
The event was billed as a discussion on “Progressive Politics in a Post-Obama World,” and O’Malley spent some time diagnosing what he called the “shellacking” Democrats received in the 2014 midterm elections – including in Maryland. He said Democrats need to focus more on what they can offer voters, especially on jobs and the economy, as opposed to just disqualifying the opposition.
The losses included his lieutenant governor and handpicked successor, Anthony Brown, who lost badly in an upset in the Democratic state. O’Malley wouldn’t say if the defeat hurt his potential presidential prospects, but acknowledged that it “hurt my feelings.” O’Malley, who was term limited, ends his term later this month.
He also said Democrats in his state were trying to understand why voters chose a Democratic attorney general, democratic controller, Democratic Senate, and Democratic House, and a Republican governor.
“I was not on the ballot,” he said. “We had done a lot of good things in Maryland, and yet you did not hear a lot of that on the campaign.”
Speaking without notes, he told what he called “my story,” from when he was a “bored” college student who signed up to work for 1984 presidential candidate Gary Hart, who would become his political mentor, to his first electoral run (a loss), to his time on the Baltimore City Council, and then mayor, before winning the governorship of Maryland in 2008.
O’Malley campaigned for Democratic candidates across the country in 2014, and said he was encouraged by the desire he found for “new leadership” and “getting things done.”
O’Malley also said he’s found that people trust city governance over Congress, that there’s a major “generational shift” happening in the country to a different way of looking the world, and that he sees “a growing consensus” on how the economy needs to work for the middle class.
Hillary Clinton, the presumed frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, did not come up.
Axelrod, President Obama’s former campaign manager, who left the White House in 2011 and founded the university’s institute of politics, asked O’Malley about his foreign policy views, which rarely come up for governors.
O’Malley said the U.S. must continue to play “a leading role” around the world, while avoiding “quick military reactions to threats.” Instead, he called for smarter, more consistent deployment of power around the globe that respects American values.
He acknowledged the threat will not go away overnight. “I wish it weren’t so, we are going to be going through probably 100 years of trying to figure out how to deal with” terrorism, he said.