MOUNT VERNON — He may be in single digits in the polls, but Martin O’Malley is confident Iowans aren’t relying on pollsters to tell them who to support in the Feb. 1 caucuses.
“Rarely is there a time that the results turn out to look like what the polls said a month before,” the Democratic presidential hopeful said in Mount Vernon Friday. “Maybe this is one of those times, but I think things are still pretty volatile.”
So the former Maryland governor will continue to make the case that he’s the change agent in the race for the Democratic nomination.
“I have a candidacy to offer new leadership, the sort of leadership that can bring us together, heal the divisions in our country,” O’Malley said after speaking to more than 100 people at Cornell College.
Compared to Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, O’Malley continued, he’s the only one “track record of actually getting progressive things done and accomplished.”
He’s putting his confidence — and his presidential hopes — in the hands of Iowa Democrats who, O’Malley said, “have shown a propensity sort through the noise.” Eight years ago, Iowans “lifted up Barack Obama to make country stronger and that’s exactly what he’s done.”
Many of the students and community members liked what they heard. For senior Sam Martinez, who grew up in Texas, O’Malley’s plans to bring 11 million illegal immigrants “out of the shadows” through immigration reform is why she supports him.
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT
Central and South Americans, she said in her introduction of O’Malley, are not coming for jobs, but to escape the crime and violence in their homelands. They shouldn’t be subject to immigrations raids and live with the threat of “driving while brown.”
“As a U.S. citizen, I don’t carry my birth certificate with me,” she said.
Michael Dunn of Mount Vernon liked O’Malley’s approach to curbing gun violence. As governor, O’Malley helped enact gun safety legislation, including banning assault weapons and limiting the magazine capacity of guns.
However, he remains undecided. O’Malley is closest to him ideologically, Dunn said, but he wondered if he’s electable because “he’s so far behind.”
O’Malley acknowledged that some Iowans hesitate to make him their first choice because of the electability questions.
“Oftentimes, the candidate that surprises on caucus night is the candidate that was everyone’s second choice,” O’Malley said. “The people of Iowa always have always had a way of surprising the pollsters and the pundits. I’ve seen it time and time again where this decision can turn in the last seven to 10 days.”
His challenge over the next two-and-a-half weeks is to “shift the dynamics of this race from this current sort of two-person posture and turn it into a three-person race by being the candidate that beats expectations on caucus night.”