|Maryland governor Martin O’Malley has expressed interesting in the US presidency for 2016|
Dublin: Maryland governor Martin O’Malley, with roots in County Mayo and the West of Ireland, where he is staying this week, has made clear he is interested in the White House job in 2016.
It is no idle speculation. If you go on Paddy Power.com odds making site he is ranked second favorite after Hillary Clinton but ahead of Joe Biden and Mario Cuomo for the Democratic nomination.
He fits in well in Ireland. He was the guitar player at the after-dinner sing song at the American Ireland Fund dinner in the K Club, 20 miles from Dublin on Saturday night, .
The music went on late into the night as the assembled sang every Irish song they ever knew and he matched them note for note.
Even though he sings a mean ‘Fields of Athenry” and loves to belt out Christy Moore numbers, Martin O’Malley’s real ambitions tend elsewhere.
Given that he is among the frontrunners for the Democratic nomination in 2016 and the hugely enthusiastic reception he received in Ireland there are many there who see him as the new Kennedy. The fact he was here as the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy homecoming was being celebrated was timely.
There has certainly not been a presidential contender since Kennedy who is as familiar and connected to Ireland.
At the American Ireland Fund dinner he fitted in seamlessly with Prime Minister Enda Kenny and Irish American icon Michael Flatley as the evening’s celebrities. He is at home as easily in Dublin as the streets of Baltimore.
I met him first when we were seatmates on a President Clinton trip to Ireland in 2000 and he informed me about Irish history and famous landmarks rather than the other way around. This was a different kind of Irish American politician I concluded.
His great grandfather, also Martin, left Maam, County Galway, settling in Arizona before moving to Pittsburgh. The pirate queen Grace O’Malley is somewhere in the deep ancestral background.
He understands how the struggles of the Irish allowed them to understand others.
“There is among the Irish, by and large in America, a keen and heartfelt awareness that we are a nation of nations and we have all been strangers in a foreign land at one point, so that gives to Irish public servants in America, not always but for the most part, a certain ability to relate to others,” O’Malley told the Irish Times recently.
His fierce commitment to his Irish heritage was fueled firstly by his love for Irish music, especially Celtic rock. For years he had his own band “O’Malley’s March” which played Irish festivals and even the White House one St.Patrick’s Day.
Some of the comparisons to Kennedy hit home. He is an East Coast liberal politician elected to statewide office very young. He has an extraordinary way with people, and is considered among the finest policy minds in his party. His wife, Judge Katie O’Malley, is a highly accomplished woman in her own right.
He is head of the Democratic Governor’s Association and his Irish-born former Chief of Staff Colm O Comartun is now Executive Director of the DGA and gearing up for a huge battle next year to bring more Democratic governors into statehouses. A candidate called Bill Clinton once followed the same path as head of the DGA and used it to make invaluable fundraising contacts.
It is easy to see why he is considered a front runner. Hillary may not run, Biden will be 73 if he does, Cuomo is handicapped by his New York base where no president since Roosevelt has emerged from. Along with Cuomo, he represents a new generation and there is a clear scenario where the party will turn to its next generation, as Republicans seem increasingly likely to do with Senator Marco Rubio or Governor Chris Christie.
O’Malley matches looks and ability and in our media besotted age that is important.
He delivers a great speech -- here are a few paragraphs from one he delivered about John F. Kennedy in Dublin this week.
“It is suggested by some that a small country can do little in a world that seems increasingly dominated by the very large few. But the reality is that Ireland is often the forerunner of truly democratic aspirations and realizations.
“This is the Irish example that President Kennedy celebrated and extolled during his visit: that a nation and a people need not be large in size, or powerful in force of arms, in order to influence the conscience of the world.”
Watch for O’Malley in 2016.
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