Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) defended President Obama’s handling of the economy and dodged a question about his interest in higher office during a Sunday morning appearance on CNN.

Candy Crowley, host of “State of the Union,” ended the show’s opening segment with O’Malley by asking him if he’s eying national office in 2016.

“I am eying the 2012 race, and I’m going to do everything to help President Obama get re-elected so that he can accelerate this nation’s jobs recovery,” O’Malley replied.

“We’ll take that as a not ‘no,’” Crowley said.

She began the segment by ticking off weak Obama poll numbers in several swing state and asking O’Malley, the chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, to be “the president’s political adviser.”

“I think we have to acknowledge the fact that none of us are really happy with the present state of our economy,” O’Malley said, “but the question is whether or not our economy is becoming better or not.”

O’Malley sought to make the case that it is, citing improvements in the unemployment rate and national foreclosure numbers.

Crowley pushed back against a reference O’Malley made to the “huge Bush recession” that he said Obama was working to overcome.

“You can talk about the Bush recession, but he’s been gone for three years now, and the president’s been in charge,” Crowley said.

O’Malley acknowledged Obama will be judged on the economy, but said “we have a very, very obstructionist wing of the Republican Party who’s been very successful at keeping the president from accelerating this jobs recovery as quickly as he’d like.”

O’Malley was also asked about plans in Maryland to raise the gas tax and other transportation-related fees. Crowley suggested such moves would hurt the middle class.

O’Malley pointed out that the recommendations cited by Crowley were those of a blue-ribbon commission, and not his, but he defended the need for more revenue.

“We do need to consider these things,” O’Malley said. “We need to figure out what the right balance is.”

As he spoke, a banner stretched across the bottom of the screen reading: “Gov. O’Malley’s Tax Increase Plan.”