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Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley will take center stage at the Democratic National Convention Tuesday night. There's been a lot of speculation that he could be a presidential contender in 2016, but he's also had to backpedal this week following a comment he made over the weekend. Alex Bolton — senior staff writer at The Hill newspaper — joins WAMU All Things Considered host Pat Brogan with an update from the convention in Charlotte, N.C.
There had been talk about a possible O'Malley presidential run in the next election cycle. What are you hearing from Democrats at the convention?
"They're excited about O'Malley and his future prospects. He's been very visible and very busy this convention going to various events and speaking to various delegations. It seems that he's trying to position himself for a future run. Democrats consider him one of two most promising potential Presidential candidates of the future — the other being New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. I spoke with Sen. Ben Cardin today, and he says he sees O'Malley in the mix in 2016.
Republicans pounced on O'Malley this weekend because of an answer he gave on CBS's Face the Nation Host Bob Sheefer asked him if people are better off than they were four years ago: "No, but that's not the question of this election. Without a doubt we are not as well off as we were before George Bush brought us the Bush job losses, the Bush recession, the Bush deficits, the series of desert wars." That of course not the message Democrats have been trying to communicate. How severe of a misstep was that for O'Malley?
"It's a misstep because he gave the Republicans some ammunition and he stepped right into their talking points. The Republican message last week was that we are not better off than we were four years ago, and O'Malley conceded that point. Although, he quickly pivoted to make the argument that, really, the biggest decline in American prosperity has been since President Bush took over 12 years ago. So while it was a misstep, it wasn't as bad some others this election cycle."
Meanwhile, Democrats and Republicans are focusing on a key U.S. Senate race in Virginia. What are you hearing about that race as the summer winds down?
"Guy Cecil, the executive director of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, gave a briefing in Charlotte today. He talked about the Virginia race, and he said it's going to very close — neck and neck. He sees Obama as having an impact in that state. If Obama wins Virginia, there's a good chance Kaine will win it as well. Cecil said he could not envision what a ticket splitter, one who voted for Obama and George Allen, would look like...
"The bigger news in Virginia today might be that former Virgil Goode of southwest Virginia getting onto the Presidential ballot. This is a very tight state at the Presidential level. If Goode, a former Democrat who shifted to the right and became a Republican, takes a couple thousand votes away from Mitt Romney, it could tip the scales of the national election."