WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley appealed to House Democrats on Tuesday to keep him in their consideration as he runs for president.
O'Malley, who is running an underdog bid for the Democratic nomination against Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, told lawmakers the country was searching for a "new leader" to help overcome partisan divisions.
"If I cannot be your first choice now, I would like to be your first choice later," O'Malley said in remarks that were audible in a hallway outside the closed-door meeting. He told reporters later that while he didn't expect to win any new endorsements, he had asked the lawmakers, "if I could not today be their first choice, I would like today to be their second choice and I look forward to their support in the future."
The meeting was aimed at connecting with influential party "super delegates" whose endorsement is coveted by campaigns. While the lawmakers are free to change their support at any time, a recent Associated Press review of super delegates found that Clinton has locked up public support from half of the Democratic insiders who cast ballots at the national party convention.
O'Malley presented himself as a can-do former chief executive and told lawmakers he was prepared to take on Republican front-runner Donald Trump or Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, if Republicans "actually nominate someone who has the best chance of winning in the fall."
Rep. Eric Swallwell of California, O'Malley's lone endorser in the House, said the former governor "will be ready when the moment comes — a breakthrough moment. I think the work he has put in now will prepare him to be ready and not have a meteoric rise and then a meteoric fall."
O'Malley has struggled to break out of single digits in polls and badly trails Clinton and Sanders in the early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire. He recently accepted public campaign financing, a sign that he is running low on money, and faces long odds unless Clinton stumbles in her campaign.
Follow Ken Thomas on Twitter: https://twitter.com/kthomasDC