For well over a year now, former lame-duck Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley has been testing the waters for a presidential run. The National Journal's Shane Goldmacher just filed a report on how that's been going; as far as I'm concerned, the heart of his story is here:
O'Malley hasn't outlined, at least publicly, what his candidacy is about, other than being a progressive not named Hillary Clinton. "What are you passionate about?" one Democratic activist in Iowa City asked him back in October. "If you were king of the world, what would you do first thing?"
His answer was directionless. "I'm passionate about my kids and their future," O'Malley began. "I'm passionate about climate change. I'm passionate about public safety. Having been mayor of Baltimore, I learned a little something about that and drug addiction along the way. I'm passionate about educating our people at higher and better levels. I'm passionate about health and improving outcomes. The bottom line is for you, Tom, all about jobs, right? How do we restore the balance for jobs?"
Most of Hillary's other potential challengers have ideological reasons to embark on a longshot crusade. Jim Webb (who appears to be running), Bernie Sanders (who's thinking about running), and Brian Schweitzer (who at the moment seems to have stopped thinking about running, though who knows?) are critics of Clinton's stances on war and Wall Street, albeit from somewhat different positions. (Sanders is a self-described socialist, Schweitzer is a so-called "libertarian Democrat," and Webb is a sort of left-wing paleoconservative, if that makes any sense.) Elizabeth Warren, who insists she isn't running but keeps getting treated as a contender anyway, is a step or two to Clinton's left on economics.
But O'Malley does not have any glaring policy differences with Clinton, a figure he has backed in the past. His campaign looks more like an exercise in personal ambition than a policy crusade, but it's a funny sort of ambition, since his chances of getting the nomination are vanishingly small. My working theory is that he's actually gunning for Clinton's vice presidential slot. But then, I've been idly predicting that O'Malley would one day be the Democrats' veep nominee for at least eight years now, going back to when O'Malley was mayor of Baltimore. So that might just be my idée fixe.
Bonus link: Longtime O'Malley critic David Simon bumps into the gov on a train.
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