Dem primaries

O’Malley pledges ‘new leadership’ as he launches 2016 bid

Greg Nash

 
Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley officially announced his candidacy for president Saturday with a fiery speech aimed at income inequality and promising to “rebuild the American Dream.”
 
“Powerful, wealthy special interests here at home have used our government to create — in our own country — an economy that is leaving a majority of our people behind,” O’Malley said. 
 
Speaking in front of a modest crowd with the skyline of his home city of Baltimore behind him, he said, “Our economic and political system is upside down and backwards and it is time to turn it around.”
 
O’Malley faces long odds against Hillary Clinton, the dominant figure in the race. He is seeking to hit her from the left, amid concerns she is too close to Wall Street.
 
{mosads}“Goldman Sachs is one of the biggest repeat-offending investment banks in America,” O’Malley said. “Recently, the CEO of Goldman Sachs let his employees know that he’d be just fine with either Bush or Clinton.” 
 
“I bet he would,” he added. “Well, I’ve got news for the bullies of Wall Street: The presidency is not a crown to be passed back and forth by you between two royal families.”
 
O’Malley called Clinton for a brief conversation about 24 hours before his announcement in what was described as a cordial call.
 
The agenda O’Malley laid out was liberal across the issues. 
 
He touted his signing as governor of bills legalizing gay marriage and giving in-state tuition to students in the country illegally. 
 
During the surge of unaccompanied children at the border last summer, he argued against deporting them, and he has criticized Clinton as being late to the party on immigration issues. 
 
He called for a higher minimum wage and respecting the right for workers to form unions. 
 
Saying climate change is real, he called for spurring American jobs in renewable energy. 
 
But economic inequality was at the core of the speech. With Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a hero of liberals for her attacks on Wall Street, not in the race, O’Malley looked to harness some of her energy. 
 
“Tell me how it is that not a single Wall Street CEO was convicted of a crime related to the 2008 economic meltdown,” he said. “Not. A. Single. One.”
 
In addition to Clinton’s dominant position in the race, O’Malley also faces a challenge even to be her main opponent. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has sucked up much of the liberal energy that O’Malley is hoping to harness for himself. 
 
Sanders entered the race earlier and has a built-in constituency that has supported the outspoken liberal over years of his tenure in Congress. 
 
O’Malley has also had to weather the scrutiny that came with protests over the fatal injury of Freddie Gray, a black man, in police custody in Baltimore last month. 
 
While O’Malley has touted his time as mayor as helping turn the city around, the ensuing protests raised the question of whether he had gone too far in policing tactics in his bid to lower crime.   
 
O’Malley did not shy from his Baltimore record and the recent protests in his speech. 
 
“What took place here was not only about race, not only about policing in America,” he said, pointing to unemployment as the root cause of many of the problems. “It was about everything it is supposed to mean to be an American.”
 
With a slogan of “new leadership,” O’Malley is contrasting himself with Clinton and her decades in the public eye. 
 
“I declare that I am a candidate for President of the United States,” he said. “And I am running for you.”
 
In the young, forward-looking theme of the campaign, he made a call to the “this generation.”
 
“The story of our country’s best days is not found in a history book,” he said. “Because this generation of Americans is about to write it.” 
 
– Updated at 11:33 a.m.
Tags Martin O'Malley

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