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Tue Dec 1, 2015, 11:28 PM

Democratic Presidential Candidate Martin O'Malley At UVa.

Democratic presidential candidate Martin O'Malley gives a speech Tuesday at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va. The event was sponsored by the Batten Graduate Council and held at the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy in Garrett Hall. Photo/The Daily Progress/Andrew Shurtleff.


O’Malley discusses education, energy and immigration at UVa.

Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley talked gun control, green energy and student debt at the University of Virginia on Tuesday night.

O’Malley, the former Maryland governor, spoke to an audience of about 200 people in a packed Garrett Hall, including students in an overflow room overlooking the main ballroom. He focused mostly on his platforms, but also derided Republican frontrunner DDonald J. Trump as a “carnival barker.”

But O’Malley also spent much of the talk calling for more civility between parties. He said he built good relationships with Republicans as governor, and he promised to do the same as president.

“We somehow need to be able to listen and hear [the opposition] if we’re going to move forward as a country,” O’Malley said.
O’Malley has previously served as mayor of Baltimore and governor of Maryland. He boasts that he is the only Democratic candidate who “had to balance a budget every year” and touts the agenda he successfully pushed through as governor, including a minimum wage increase and a gun control law.

Yet none of this has boosted the appeal of O’Malley, who is far behind Democratic frontrunners Hillary Rodham Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., in the polls. According to the latest numbers from Public Policy Polling, about 7 percent of respondents say they support the Maryland governor, compared to 59 percent for Clinton and 26 percent for Sanders.
O’Malley said he’s not worried about the numbers this early in the game.

“Every [election] year in this presidential selection process, the polls say one thing in November, but once the voters have their say — beginning with the Iowa caucus and then in New Hampshire — the race becomes a different race,” he said after his speech.

Heidi Wilder, a second-year postgraduate student in the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, speculated that O’Malley may be too nuanced to capture the imagination of voters the way outsider Bernie Sanders has.
“It’s unfortunate that he doesn’t have much draw because he speaks so technically,” Wilder said.

O’Malley touched on most of the major issues of the campaign — namely the economy and immigration. He said raising the minimum wage would strengthen the economy by stimulating spending and he promised to provide comprehensive immigration reform, while also bashing Trump’s proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
“The enduring symbol of our country is not the barbed wire fence, it’s the Statue of Liberty,” he said.

O’Malley also hinted at plans to unveil a comprehensive “urban investment” proposal. He did not give specifics, but said it would be aimed at reducing unemployment in large cities. He had similar sweeping proposals to make the country’s electrical grid run on clean energy, or non-fossil fuels, by 2050 and to give students the opportunity to get a “debt-free” college education.
He also pledged tax increases on income for top earners and corporation.

Wilder said she was skeptical of his assertion that a sizeable increase in minimum wage would not lead to layoffs, and said it would likely raise unemployment in the short-term.

“The problem is the short-term and getting people to invest in the idea,” she said.

Henry Maillet, a fourth-year student who said he’s “leaning toward” O’Malley, said he’s intrigued by the governor as an outsider candidate, noting that financial corporation Morgan Stanley supports both Clinton and Jeb Bush.

“I think that points to a much larger issue in Washington that he’s trying to address,” Maillet said.


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