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Democrat-in-waiting Martin O'Malley visits Iowa

Martin O'Malley visited Iowa this weekend, where he moved forward despite the looming presence of Clinton.
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley speaks with reporters in his office inside the Maryland State House in Annapolis, Md., on April 7, 2014.

It's hard to ignore the elephant in the room—particularly when that elephant is the potential 2016 candidacy of Hillary Clinton.

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley visited Iowa this weekend on a two-day tour, where the 2016 Democratic hopeful couldn't escape the looming presence—sometimes literally—of the former secretary of state.

O’Malley gave a 25-minute speech at a Friday night dinner for retiring Iowa Democrat Sen. Tom Harkin, according a report in The Washington Post, shortly before Clinton appeared—broadcast from two large TVs -- to deliver a recorded message for Harkin.

Clinton joked that she needed Harkin’s advice on a “momentous plunge” she would soon take. “Tom, what’s the secret to being such a terrific grandparent?” she asked, earning big laughs from the crowd.

Iowa’s kingmaker caucuses are hugely influential in choosing the Democratic nominee for president every four years. Democratic delegates told The Washington Post O'Malley would be a welcome alternative to Clinton, despite the countless polls that have put Clinton solidly in the lead.

O'Malley has clearly been preparing for a potential run, but close associates say he won't run if Clinton chooses to do so. As far as Clinton is concerned, she's been mum on her decision, instead embarking on a multi-city book tour some have speculated is actually a trial balloon for whether she's ready to campaign again.

The Maryland governor said in February that he was moving ahead with possible preparations for a presidential bid, telling The Washington Post that he has been meeting with policy experts to flesh out his thinking about “a better way forward for the country.”