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Eye On Candidates
March 11, 2015

O’Malley Prepares to Take On Clinton

The most interesting question in the 2016 Democratic nomination battle is, who will rise up to become Hillary Clinton’s main challenger? One possibility is Maryland’s former governor, Martin O’Malley. David Weigel at Bloomberg Politics has an interesting write-up of his preparations to run:

Martin O'Malley Readies His Run as the Un-Hillary

CONCORD, N.H.—Martin O’Malley had just delivered a 10-minute talk to a few dozen Merrimack County Democrats, then spent 15 minutes walking from handshake to handshake, compliment to compliment…Then came Charles Pewitt...

“Immigration,” said Pewitt.

“Immigration,” O’Malley repeated. “Well, I’m in favor of immigration reform. But let me hear your question.”

“Well, OK,” said Pewitt. “Start with the bill in the Senate, which passed in June of 2013, S744. Some people call it the illegal alien amnesty mass immigration surge bill.”

Two cameramen, who had been intermittently filming O’Malley’s speech and conversations, wheeled around and turned on their lights.

“This bill would give legal status to approximately 12 to 20 million illegal aliens, and also it would create a massive surge in legal immigration,” said Pewitt. “Don’t you think, as a Democrat, that would reduce wages for workers in the United States? …How can the Democratic Party, which is supposed to speak up for workers, be for immigration, when it lowers wages and displaces U.S. workers?”

… the trip was coming after two weeks of brutal news for Hillary Clinton, who in the most recent poll of a potential New Hampshire Democratic primary led O’Malley by 69 points. She was at 69 percent; he was at 0 percent. The press corps, in person and absent, wanted to see if O’Malley would whack Hillary or if he’d stumble.

He did not stumble. He delivered a sort of blow-off, a defense of the immigration bill’s principles, but phrased so softly that Pewitt didn’t seem to process it. “I actually think that when you have people living in the shadows of our society, people living off the books and not being fully recognized citizens, that you create a couple of things that are bad for wages,” said O’Malley. “You create an underground economy. It’s bad for our security–you create an underground society. And that’s bad for our country. One cannot point to an extended period of time in American history when newly arriving groups of immigrants did anything but make our country stronger.”

Pewitt walked away polite but unsatisfied. O’Malley had demonstrated, with extreme subtlety, how he will challenge Clinton for the nomination. He would not swing at her over the scandals that compelled the media at any given moment. He would not (or could not) steal away her voters with soaring rhetoric.

No: O’Malley would meet as many Democrats as possible and remind them of how progressive he was…

It’s too early to know who will be Clinton’s most formidable rival, and there could be more than one. But right now O’Malley seems to be the one out there working hardest for that slot.