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Gaffe or not? O’Malley announces ‘conclusion’ during speech

As Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) drew close to the end of his final State of the State address on Thursday afternoon, he announced: “Conclusion.”

Twitter lit up with laughter and mockery: Did the governor just accidentally read a section heading off his script?

A Republican PAC posted a clip on YouTube with the title: “O’Malley pulls an anchorman: Reads ‘conclusion’ out loud.” The National Journal declared it “a Ron Burgundy moment.” (Don’t get that reference? In the 2004 movie “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy,” the title character will read anything and everything that comes across a teleprompter, even the f-bomb.) In a tweet, a Buzzfeed reporter deemed it the “top gaffe of 2014.”

The thing is: O’Malley almost always does this. And on purpose.

He picked up the habit from one of his favorite priests, the Rev. Andrew Costello at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Annapolis, according to an aide. The governor and the reverend both find it helpful to signal to their audiences that the end is near. (The aide added that the governor is also a big fan of “Anchorman.”)

Thursday’s speech was a little different because O’Malley only said the word once. Often he will say: “Conclusion. Conclusion.” To see a double-conclusion proclamation, watch O’Malley’s speech at the 2012 Maine Democratic Convention (fast-forward to about 20 minutes and 20 seconds).

Jenna Johnson is a political reporter who is covering the 2016 presidential campaign.

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