Former mayor and governor Martin O'Malley seeks to calm tensions after riots in Baltimore.Getty Images

Likely presidential contender Martin O’Malley cut short his speaking tour in Ireland to head back to his hometown of Baltimore and was on the riot-scarred streets on Tuesday night.

O’Malley served from 1999 to 2007 as Mayor of Baltimore and followed that with eight years as Maryland's governor. Now he is sizing up a White House bid.

“There’s a lot of pain in our city right now and a lot of people feeling very sad,” he told the New York Times.

“And look, we’ve got to come through this together,” he said. “We’re a people who have seen worse days, and we’ll come through this day.”

O’Malley asked local activists whether it was safe to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue in the city where some of the worst rioting occurred.

The former mayor was greeted with both jeers and cheers from the locals when he stepped out of his car.

The New York Times captured this moment:

“Did you see all those boarded-up houses on your way out?” shouted a man who greeted him in front of the Arch Social Club.

“I actually did,” Mr. O’Malley said.

“You plan on doing anything about that?”

“I got elevated to the same rank as you, I’m a citizen now,” O’Malley said.

“You made a lot of promises,” the man shouted.

“And I did the best that I could,” the former mayor said.

“In what community? Not in the black community!”

O’Malley pointed out he had buried ten police officers during his time in Baltimore. “I buried 10 police officers too, half of them were black and half of them were white.”

Ernest Taylor, thanked Mr. O’Malley for getting him off drugs through a prison program. “Ah, good man,” O’Malley said. “Say that again. Give me a big hug.”

He refused to discuss his White House plans saying it was neither the time nor the place.