DES MOINES, Iowa -- With the announcement of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 2016 presidential bid close at hand, one of her potential Democratic rivals, former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley, says it could be late May before he shares his decision about moving forward.
O’Malley said in an interview Thursday night that there are “fewer and fewer” factors left for him to weigh and that he continues to hear from fellow Democrats that “our country’s looking for new leadership.” But O’Malley said he remains engaged in conversations with friends and family about what would be “a colossal undertaking.”
“You have to allow the time to give your friends the ability to tell you whether they think you’re crazy or whether they’re on board," O'Malley said. "You have to give your family the ability to tell you that as well. And that requires an amount of time and patience.”
O’Malley, who is barely registering in early polls but has been warmly received by Democratic audiences, spoke following an event Thursday night where close to 150 people packed into an Irish bar in the Beaverdale neighborhood here. After delivering a speech laced with populist themes, O’Malley, who has a side career as a musician, picked up a borrowed acoustic guitar and played a folk song, as he has in several other recent appearances in early nominating states.
Asked in the interview if Clinton’s entrance into the race will affect his thinking, O’Malley said: “Not any longer.”
“My sense, having traveled around the country now over the course of the last year, is that Americans … feel that their politics has been very badly damaged, that the rules have been unfairly manipulated in ways that threaten the future of our American Dream and of a growing American middle class,” he said. “And people in our party, I think, are looking for new leadership that will break with the failed policies of our past and create a new and better day for our country. That’s my sense.”
Running for the presidency, he added, is “a colossal undertaking, and you have to be equipped to climb the mountain and not fight the mountain. You have to be prepared to climb it, and that takes a lot of work. That takes a lot planning, and that takes a lot of thought.”
The former governor is in the midst of a two-day swing through Iowa that also included appearances Thursday before the House and Senate Democratic caucuses of the state legislature and at a fundraiser in Indianola for state Rep. Scott Ourth.
On Friday, O’Malley is booked to appear here at a Polk County Democrats awards dinner, along with another potential Democratic presidential candidate, former senator James Webb of Virginia.
During remarks at Ourth’s fundraiser, held at a local winery, O’Malley referenced his work in Iowa during the 1984 presidential cycle for the campaign of “a little-known, 1 percent candidate named Gary Hart.”
Hart faced a formidable front-runner that year in former vice president Walter Mondale. After beating expectations in Iowa, Hart went on to upset Mondale in New Hampshire and became his chief rival for the Democratic nomination, eventually falling short.
“I know how seriously you take your responsibility,” O’Malley told the Democratic activists in the room. “I know that you have the ability to actually change the course of history.”