By Mark Kobzik
Democratic presidential candidate, Martin O’Malley, stopped by the Strafford Room in the MUB for a speech and question and answer session on Tuesday. The former mayor of Baltimore and governor of Maryland reached out to a crowd of 60 students and community members to talk about issues facing the country. O’Malley is now third in New Hampshire polls struggling to gain a foothold in a primary that has been dominated by Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.
Doug Marino, a political science major and vice president of College Democrats at UNH, said, “It’s been really great to give our students the opportunity to interact with the candidates and see what the party is about and what our candidates are about… A lot of students are enthusiastic about the candidates. UNH is a really great place to get involved because these candidates come here. I think a lot of students are beginning to get election fever.”
After apologizing to the crowd for being late due to a plane holdup in Baltimore, O’Malley quickly laid out a plan for where he thinks the United States must go as a country. O’Malley praised President Obama’s handling of a recession economy when he took office, but O’Malley also mentioned that we have a lot more to do.
“I am here to rebuild the American dream. We’ve come a long way since 2008 and we have 67 months of jobs growth,” O’Malley said. “The tougher news is that we have the growing injustice of income inequality. Cities face higher unemployment. Of the three candidates, I am the only one with executive experience and I know what needs to be done.”
The former governor has proposed debt-free college for all students within the next 5 years. O’Malley pointed to his time as governor and he said, “We froze tuition for four years in a row. We need to make the investment again as a nation in increasing Pell Grants and get states to stop cutting higher education spending.” O’Malley has laid out a 5-point plan that he looks to initiate as president.
Anna May, a UNH student and Republican voter attending the event said, “I think his approach to student debt will help us. His ideas are something that we need in this country. I won’t necessarily vote for him, but I do think those ideas will be good for America.”
O’Malley mentioned his resume within the executive branch of the Maryland government.
“I had to save my state through a recession [as governor],” he said. “We invested more in education and in jobs. We gave more opportunities to women in business than any other state. We passed the Dream Act, repealed the death penalty, passed gun safety measures and passed marriage equality.”
Where O’Malley’s criticism has been stemming from most recently is his tenure as mayor from 1999-2007. O’Malley mentioned that, “We overcame deep lines over race, drugs and crime. We saved a lot of lives.” Although the crime rate did fall, it was part of a zero-tolerance policy that many people within Baltimore have criticized. Such critics are Bishop Douglas Miles, a community leader, who said O’Malley’s department “set the tone for how the police department in Baltimore has reacted to poor and African American communities since then.”
O’Malley’s government was even sued by the NAACP and the ACLU which won the suit and the city of Baltimore had to pay a near $900,000 settlement. This suit was partially brought about due to “the number of arrests in Baltimore soared, reaching 108,447 in 2005, or about one-sixth of the city’s population,” according to the Washington Post.
O’Malley addressed the problem of climate change as a threat to the planet and national security. He vows to end offshore drilling, divest from fossil fuels and is opposed to the Keystone Pipeline. O’Malley said “that climate change is the biggest opportunity for business as we continue to develop new green technologies.”
Feb. 9 will be when Democrats go to the polls and begin the election of a nominee. Until then, O’Malley will have the chance to engage more voters and debate Clinton and Sanders one more time in December. O’Malley is currently residing in third place with about 3 percent according to a new Monmouth Poll. Jim Webb, Lincoln Chafee, and Lawrence Lessig have all dropped out leaving the competition between Clinton, Sanders, and O’Malley.