Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley announced he’s running for the Democratic presidential nomination Saturday in Baltimore.
“So let me ask a question of Des Moines, Iowa,” shouted without a microphone to the packed crowd in a small campaign office just outside downtown Des Moines. “Are you ready to take your country forward!?”
O’Malley was once mayor of Baltimore; where recently the police killing of Freddie Gray, an unarmed black man lead to riots. O’Malley says as mayor he drove police shootings down and improved community and police relations.
“None of it was easy. It all took constant tending. That trust that needs to exist between people and police departments,” O’Malley says. “Especially when you mix it with the history of the racial legacy we have in our country is something that requires constant attention and constant tending.”
O’Malley says America needs to be a place where everyone can feel represented.
He took questions from the audience and met with the press. He tells reporters he’s comfortable as an underdog when asked about facing perceived democratic front runner and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“What I find so refreshing about the Iowa caucuses is that people here are not intimidated by big money or polls or the pundits” O’Malley says. “They do expect to see each of the candidates and to ask them questions.”
“He doesn’t have some of the baggage that some of the other career politicians have had,” says Jordan Shaw, an engineer from West Des Moines who was among the crowd. “I like what he’s been able to do as a governor.”
Shaw sites Maryland's acceptance of same-sex marriage and abolishing the death penalty.
“The funny thing is that I’m all for women’s rights and women’s rights,” says Lyndsay Horgan a web designer from Des Moines who also came to see O’Malley. “It’s an interesting position to be still supporting not necessarily the female candidate but really what it’s for is I really like that he supports that average middle-class American.”
Both Shaw and Horgan say their minds aren’t made up quite yet.
“It’s Iowa… we’ll be here for the long haul,” Horgan says.