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Thu Aug 13, 2015, 10:02 PM

O’Malley positions himself as new voice.

Democratic presidential hopeful Martin O’Malley renewed calls for affordable college tuition, a $15 minimum wage and stronger labor unions during a Thursday speech at the Iowa State Fair.

The former Maryland governor got applause on The Des Moines Register’s Political Soapbox stage for knocking Gov. Terry Branstad’s July veto of $55.7 million that legislators set aside for schools. Education Week named Maryland the top state for education five years in a row during O’Malley’s term as governor, he said, while listing off a host of other accomplishments.

“We invested in infrastructure, we invested in new jobs and new industries,” he said. “And, note to Gov. Branstad, rather than cutting education, we increased our funding to education. We made our public schools the best public schools in America.”

In response, Branstad spokesman Jimmy Centers said in part, “Under Branstad-Reynolds, pre-K-12 education funding in Iowa has increased by over 35 percent when compared to the five previous fiscal years under Democrat governors.”

Reporters asked O’Malley after his Des Moines Register Political Soapbox appearance whether he’d welcome Vice President Joe Biden into the presidential race. Echoing past answers, O’Malley said Biden’s ideas and input if he entered the race would make the eventual Democratic nominee stronger during the general election.

AT THE EVENT

QUOTE: “In tougher times, Franklin Roosevelt told us not to be afraid. In times of change, John Kennedy told us that to govern is to choose. What I say to you today is that progress is a choice.”

CROWD: O’Malley’s crowd stretched onto the Grand Avenue Concourse, approximately nine rows deep beyond the seated crowd.

OTHER STOPS AT THE FAIR: O’Malley walked the fairgrounds flanked by his son, William, and daughter, Grace. The three rode the iconic Giant Slide on burlap sacks. “It was everything we thought it would be and more,” O’Malley said. They took a selfie in front of the butter cow. O’Malley ate a pork chop on a stick.

UP NEXT: O’Malley will stop at events in Cedar Rapids and Cedar Falls on Friday ahead of the annual Iowa Wing Ding in Clear Lake.

http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/elections/presidential/caucus/2015/08/13/martin-omalley-state-fair-soapbox-speech/31671345/

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